ASSTR: Zombie Story Site

Jonathan Bowser

There are probably many of those who’ve looked for my fiction who have found that it is sited on ASSTR and may then have wandered onto its home site and been astounded at the sheer volume of authors represented there and the stories they’ve written.

You might also have noticed that the home site seems somewhat deficient in its functionality. For instance, the list of authors hardly features anyone, the Spotlights page hasn’t been updated since 2017 and many of the links don’t lead anywhere.

The situation is even worse if you’re an author. The online FTP facility no longer works, there is no longer a weekly posting of author statistics and there is no way that new authors can register on the site to post their stories.

However, it is clear that ASSTR is not actually dead. It is kind of walking along as can be seen by the number of new stories (or at least revisions of existing stories) that are posted every day. The site is in fact kind of like a zombie. It’s not quite dead and it’s not quite alive.

ASSTR was founded in the very early days of the Internet. It was a kind of offshoot of the newsgroups on bulletin boards that existed before the advent of HTML and is now managed by Google and known as Google Groups. It was in fact the repository of the newsgroup (hence its name). As time went on, it grew to become a much bigger enterprise as the internet’s largest collection of sex stories, hosting web sites for the many thousands of authors who wanted to post fiction that might not be accepted elsewhere. By the turn of the millennium it was at the heart of a vibrant community of authors and definitely the best place on the internet to find a wide range of fiction that was almost entirely free of scrutiny. The website was free, it was managed by volunteers and supported by donations. It was even, and probably still is, a registered American charity.

However, as standards on the internet have changed, the site now has a very dated look about it. Most of the site’s authors have no discernible skill at building web pages and the great majority of stories are available only as text, often poorly formatted and difficult to read. Furthermore, the quality of the actual stories is often very poor, almost illiterate on occasion, and pertains to behaviour which is quite rightly illegal throughout the world.

At about 2017, after the site had moved to a new service provider, the site simply stopped being maintained at all.

So, what we’re left with is a website that is just about stumbling along and to which only authors who were members of the website before 2017 are able to upload any files (and then only on FTP). So what you’ll see in the automatically updated list of recent posts is mostly just submissions by the same few authors and only those who are confident in using FTP (by such tools as FileZilla).

However, the prospective author doesn’t have to rely on ASSTR. There are other story sites out there and other hosts for authors who can build up their own websites.

It’s just that for those who want to post transgressive fiction, you’ll just have to contend with places that may well have very strict moderation policies (especially with regards to more extreme forms of sex and violence) or you may have to look beyond the world wide web into the murky world of the dark web.

No Future – Pandemic



I’m sure that the dearest wish of any author who writes fiction set in the future is that it is in some way an accurate portrayal—even when that future is dystopian or unpleasant. In that way, my near-future history novel No Future has already been both right and wrong.

It has been wrong most evidently in the fact that the first chapter is set in the year 2020 and makes no reference whatsoever to a pandemic, which would be strange if the novel were actually written in the future and the writer was keeping true to the relative past. In fact, when I started writing the novel back in 2010, the year 2020 seemed comfortably distant, so this is perhaps more than understandable.

However, I was prescient enough in a novel intended to warn of future disaster, to mention the likelihood of various waves of plague and pandemics in Chapters 52, 78 and 79. And this is just one of a number of ecological, political and societal disasters which lead the future to its final cataclysm in Chapter 88. So, although I wasn’t anticipating a major epidemiological crisis until 2059, I did at least anticipate it happening some time soon.

However, things are actually rather worse in the actual year 2020 than I had imagined possible. And all these disasters were predicated on the triumph of right wing or authoritarian political activism. As we all know, the plague of such reactionary and uncaring politics taking control of government  has taken grip long before I predicted, not just in America, Hungary, Turkey, Brazil and many other countries, but even here in the United Kingdom, which in my novel has its last gasps under a Government of National Unity in the 2060s. Indeed, along with Brexit (which I also anticipated, but again not until the 2050s), this and many other catastrophes that will blight the nation are happening here and now with consequences that I predicted (but never hoped to see) throughout the coming century or so.

In No Future, the United States falls apart; the UK is reduced to just the Republic of England; climate change results in high walls along all rivers and coasts; inequality becomes ever more extreme; and civilisation regresses for the many while technology continues to advance for the few. And the final apocalypse happens by mistake rather than design.

I just hope my predictions don’t continue to come true.

Or at least will wait until such time that I’m no longer around to see the results.


Ethics and attitudes toward slavery



The Modern Slave Market – Skating Jesus


Every now and then, I am delighted to see a review or critique of my fiction and whenever it is insightful or especially interesting, I like to highlight it in this blog.

Recently, I got a critique on Literotica for my short story Thoroughly Modern Emancipation and as it is unusually perceptive, I thought I’d mention it here. Anonymous says the following:

A pleasure to read! Plays with some of the subtler aspects of slavery and attitudes toward slavery in a fictional future United States. Deals with the hypocrisy of those who flatter themselves on having an ethic of reform while actually maintaining, and taking full advantage of, a brutal institution.

Although, this is an Alternative History kind of story (rather like Blessed by Nature and Freedom of Trade), it is of course also satire.

Satire is by nature about contemporary matters, although the short story does also allude to the sophistry used over history (and not only in America) to justify the institution of slavery by placing the property rights of slave-owners over the right to liberty of slaves. In our society we see many immoral and dangerous practices defended by the full weight of the law and the apparently authoritative opinion of interested parties such as newspaper and television proprietors, company directors and politicians in the pocket of pressure groups (i.e. the gun lobby, the petrochemical industry and the arms industry).

I welcome all comments (even those that aren’t especially complimentary), so please don’t be afraid to submit them. Just don’t expect me to highlight any that are abusive or just plain stupid.


Trumpland über alles


Trumpworld, reimagined as one of Hieronymus Bosch’s “Hell” paintings.
Artwork by Glenn Palmer-Smith.


I recently received a comment from Bruce Marks regarding my short story, Freedom of Trade which he praised as a critique of the Laissez-faire politics pushed by the likes of Rand Paul and Ayn Rand. However, it isn’t really a satire on the current Trump administration which I think is a very different beast.

Certainly there are elements of the Trumpian ideology (if it can be given that much credence) that reflect a belief in the inherent virtue of market forces, but I think this is more a marriage of convenience with the neo-cons than a deeply held belief. And I think this is true of all the positions Trump has taken. It is all about what is convenient for Trump to build, maintain and motivate a base, which, astonishingly, is calculated at 35% of the American electorate.

I don’t think he really gives a shit about neo-conservative economic theory. I don’t think he gives a toss about the concerns of the white evangelicals. He probably cares about the environment and climate change and all the big issues that will dominate the next century or even the far distant future, only insofar as his policies can help turn an apparent short-term profit for his peers. And although he is undoubtedly a racist (as much as he is a sexist, a chauvinist, an ignoramus, a liar and many other bad things), I suspect his support of strong anti-immigration measures is less to do with a deeply-held set of beliefs and more about convenience. As proof of that, on the eve of the mid-term elections he is sending thousands of troops (more than in Afghanistan) to guard the country against the arrival of a few hundred desperate refugees who won’t arrive for months to come. He cares so much about security that he wastes valuable resources just to kick their heels in the sun over the winter months and won’t be of much use in processing asylum claims and looking after children when this caravan eventually does arrive.

I haven’t written very much on my blog since the Trump debacle of November 2016, mostly because my fear, anxiety and disgust about everything related to Trump could so easily become incoherent and ranting. Needless to say there are many commentators far better than me who have said many wise things since that date and I would urge everyone to seek them out. However, one article of particular significance that might otherwise be lost in the shitstorm is this one from the New York Magazine:

However, as so much of my fiction is a warning against the perils of future trends, at least in my novel No Future, what can we say at this point about the Trump legacy?

My hope is that, as things fall apart over the next few months or years of an incompetent demagogue who is worsening everything he touches, those foolish people who actually believe in the man will be so badly disillusioned that this spells the end of the right in America as a force to be reckoned with.

Unfortunately, this is unlikely to happen. In every society, there are those who characterise themselves as conservative and therefore vote for the Right, whatever that happens to be at any one time. Currently, the Republican Party is the Party of Trump and America is fast becoming a very Disunited set of States, as the majority understandably reject the president’s extremism and venality. In my novel No Future this results in America splitting into three, with the southern and mid-west conservative states becoming an independent republic in a world where the main axis is between the ascendant East Asian states and the increasingly impotent and malign rump Western states.

Whether this happens, I don’t know, but this scenario has become much more probable in the last few years.

And the climax of my novel after many years of environmental degradation was, of course, a devastating nuclear war.

Off-line Reading

Offline Reading

Offline Reading

As a general rule, I reply to private correspondence with private replies rather than in a public forum, but I recently was sent a query from Lawrence whose reply I think should be made more publicly available. And that is about how to save and read the e-books I post on my website.

I make my fiction available in a number of formats, including text for those who still rely on dial-up or very slow broadband. In particular, a section of my website is dedicated to e-books which not everyone necessarily knows what they do with.

The main advantage of e-books is that once they are downloaded, they can be read off-line when, for instance, you don’t have an internet connection. The format is also often better than what can be provided by HTML and certainly by text. For instance, the font and page size can be tailored to taste, the pagination is better, and there are features like bookmarks and indexes and the like which suit reading better than can be provided by a standard web page.

However, the difficulty with e-books is that you need an e-book reader of some kind. This is because, on the whole, e-books cannot automatically be read by a web browser.

There are two stages with regards to accessing an e-book. The first stage is when the file is downloaded from a web page by following a link (e.g. Passion.epub). The second is when you open the file with the appropriate software. And, of course, it’s not always obvious what that software might be.

There are four e-book formats I use for e-books, so I’ll discuss them in turn:

  • PDF

The PDF file is the off-line format used by Adobe Acrobat Reader, but PDF files are nowadays so thoroughly integrated into the browser that the only time you’ll need to use Acrobat Reader is if you opt to save the PDF file to read later (which you can easily do by pressing the Save icon – which still looks like 1.4MB floppy disk). This software can easily be retrieved from Adobe’s website, but be sure you don’t inadvertently download software that Adobe offers but which you don’t want. Acrobat Reader provides a lot of features you may not really want and it isn’t very flexible in fitting the page size to the device you’re reading on, but it’s very good if you want to print the file and read it without a device at all.

  • EPUB

The EPUB format is the closest there is to an industry standard. On an iPhone or an iPad or other Apple device, the EPUB file is recognised by iBooks which is provided by default. On Windows or Android devices, you’ll need to download other software to read the files. I use Calibre (which is freeware), but there are plenty of other e-book readers you can use. Once you download the file, you’ll need to open it with the e-book reader of your choice, but when you’ve opened it once the operating system will remember the file format for future use.

  • MOBI

The MOBI format is used by Amazon’s Kindle, and so it was necessary for me to provide this option for those who have these devices. Other than Kindles, you need to use an e-book reader app and that’s not supplied by default (even on an Apple device). Again, I prefer to use Calibre, but unless you use a Kindle I don’t see the advantage of going through all the hassle to read a MOBI e-book rather than one in EPUB format. Unfortunately, it’s not all that straightforward to get the document onto a Kindle device or even to read it on a phone or tablet that has the Kindle app. Essentially, Kindles are designed so that the default is that you can only read e-books you’ve downloaded from Amazon.

However, if you own a Kindle, you’ll probably want to read my e-books on it. To do this, you need to download the MOBI e-book to your computer, connect your Kindle (or device with Kindle on it) to your computer, view the Kindle directories or folders through File Explorer or whatever your  computer uses, and then copy it into the same directory as the other e-books you’ve downloaded from Amazon. On my Kindle, it’s in a directory called \documents, but it may be different on your device. It will then be picked up by Kindle’s software and you’ll be able to read it. And after all that, you’ll be able to take advantage of the advanced features of a dedicated e-reader.

  • LIT

The LIT format is used by Microsoft’s legacy e-book reader, MSReader. It used to be very easy to download the app, but now requires a bit of detective work on Google to find. It is easy to find and download for Windows Mobile but I can’t guarantee that it works so well on other devices. Personally, I think the software’s still pretty good but now that Microsoft has ceased to maintain it, the app is difficult to recommend even though I’ve continued to supply files in that format.

I’ve made no attempt to handle all the many other e-book formats that exist. There are just too many of them. I anticipate that some time in the future the market will rationalise to two or three standards, but while Amazon retains its grip on the e-book format it will ultimately be up to Jeff Bezos as to which formats will win the day.


About Me

Bradley Stoke

Bradley Stoke

This post is to announce the appearance of a new About Me page on my website. And for those who can’t be bothered to click on the link, the text of this page is below:

Almost every website in the world has a kind of About Me page and I can’t think of a good reason why my website should be any different. However, if you think this page will give an exposé of the real person behind the pseudonym, you’ll be disappointed. I won’t reveal even such personal details as my gender, age or nationality, although I don’t believe any of these things are much of a mystery to a perceptive reader.

The illustration above is of the real Bradley Stoke: an English suburban town distinguished, if at all, by being so very boring and unremarkable. But, of course, that might not remain so forever. Even the dullest places, from Hillsborough to Columbine, can become famous for all the wrong reasons. I chose the name simply because it sounds a bit like a real name and because not many people, even in the UK, have ever heard of the place.

I don’t know when I started writing fiction. It was probably as a child while at school, but nothing has survived nor deserved to. The earliest stories I wrote that can be found on my website are Omega and Alif. These were optimistically written for paper-based publication, but as there were no takers, they’re now available for free (like almost everything I’ve written).

When I wrote these stories the internet was nothing like what it is today and I didn’t write them with online viewing in mind, any more than with the Sex Fantasies I wrote at about the same time. These were written entirely for my own gratification and with no hope or expectation that they’d ever be read by anyone else. I was wrong, of course. These are now my most popular and most read fiction, despite being sometimes of questionable merit and not always on the right side of being decent and honourable.

I sort of mostly forgot about the fiction I’d written for several years until I became aware that the internet had evolved to the point that there were websites where I could post my fiction and where they might be read. Not too surprisingly, perhaps, most of those places were of a decidedly adult nature (even if much of the fiction was, and still is, remarkably juvenile).

So, at about the turn of the century, I began posting my fiction on various now mostly defunct websites of which now only Literotica remains. In fact, this website is one for which I have particular affection because Laurel, the website’s owner, took quite a shine to Innocence Lost and gave me a lot of encouragement at the time. It was also thanks to Laurel and Literotica that I chose to write short stories, which at first were exclusively written for the site. This was because I’d come to recognise that the bias on the internet, especially with regards to sex fiction, is towards the shorter form. Although I think much of the best stuff I’ve written include some of my short stories (such as The Price of Prejudice, Peace Returns and The Silent Tutsi), it’s still not the form in which I feel most comfortable writing.

However, in my early days of enthusiasm about the internet, I became active in a number of different ways. I contributed to several newsgroups, including alt.fiction.original and alt,sex.stories.d  (both now mere shadows of what they used to be); I started posting on Storiesonline and other story websites; and, most significant of all, I created my own website on

The pinnacle of this early period was when I began contributing stories to the now defunct Ruthie’s Club, a website that charged its readers and paid its writers (a very modest amount) for the stories it printed. From my perspective, what was best about contributing to the site was that my stories were properly edited and even illustrated. The zenith of the period in which I wrote fiction for the website was when my fiction was celebrated on 19 January 2004 by a Bradley Stoke Festival where several of my short stories were presented. It was also at Ruthie’s Club that I published my novella Degrees of Intimacy, which marks, if you like, the start of my mature style of writing.

However, my enthusiasm for writing fiction declined as the years went by. I stopped contributing to Ruthie’s Club (or anywhere else for that matter) and didn’t even notice when the site ceased to exist, which was long after the death of the eponymous Ruthie who edited so many of my stories.

I started writing fiction again in about 2011, which was when I wrote The Anomaly Trilogy, Glade and Ivory  and No Future, all of which are pretty long and are also, almost undoubtedly, the best fiction I’d yet written. These were published over a period of about three years, with the last chapter being submitted in 2014.

This was also the time that I started publishing my fiction in e-book format most notably on Smashwords, but also on and Amazon.  In my new burst of enthusiasm, I even started my own WordPress blog, as I’d got tired of posting on news boards where my views and opinions were swamped by trivia and spam or on Storiesonline’s blog, where most other blog posts are of mind-boggling self-regard.

Since publishing these three novels, I’ve posted a number of short stories that are no less varied than any I’ve ever written before and I’m currently posting chapters of my latest novel, Crystal Passion, which is the account of a British all-woman band touring America in the 1990s.

My most recent story publication was on 9th March 2016 and is Crystal Passion Chapter Five .

My most recent blog entry was on 24th February 2016 and is a good place to find out even more about me.



How should a Principled Conservative vote in America?

David Koch

David Koch

Generally I have nothing but contempt, fear and loathing for those who characterise themselves as conservative and even more so for the American variety whose vote generally goes to the Republican Party.

In fact, as the picture of David Koch above shows, in reality most of American politics on the right is dominated by David and Charles Koch, the billionaire brothers whose malevolent influence on the world it is difficult to overstate. However, for those who are interested in finding out more there is a review of a book about them, Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, reviewed in the New York Review of Books and Rolling Stone. Essentially, it is no coincidence that the agenda and ideology of the American right is so in tune with its billionaire paymasters.

However, the Koch agenda, supported by Murdoch and Fox News, has been sabotaged on the right by Donald Trump who by making a virtue of not taking money from the usual paymasters is able to (kind of) articulate the frustrations, rage and anger of those in America who believe (often mistakenly) that conservative politics speaks for them. As has now been said many times by many commentators, those who support Trump don’t have much sympathy or support for libertarian capitalism, have a fairly unsophisticated understanding of Biblical fundamentalism and, in truth, are more cannon fodder than soldiers in the American Right’s march towards total dominance. They support low taxes but not when their jobs and livelihood are affected. They hate big government, but quite like state largesse when it helps them. And most of all they know only too well who they hate, which, as Donald Trump, has made clear are mostly foreigners, immigrants and big business (when it tramples over them and their local community).

But let’s imagine for a moment that there is such a thing as a principled conservative in America. Let’s imagine that this is a person who has right-wing convictions as a result of agonised reflection, having seriously considered all the arguments for and against. This is a person whose views coincide with the current trends of American reactionary ideology, based on Heidegger’s and Ayn Rand’s notions of libertarianism, coloured with enough religious fundamentalism to not be a total nutjob, in support of the interests of big business but in a kind of responsible thoughtful way (not at all influenced by the propaganda of the Koch brothers), and a rational and indeed reasonable supporter of the Tea Party and yet not at all racist, xenophobic or mentally deficient.

How will this principled conservative, much feted by the conservative American media, choose to vote in the coming elections?

At the moment the choice is between the last remaining ‘establishment’ candidate, Marco Rubio, who is getting the lion’s share of the Koch funds and the two depraved and unprincipled populists, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump. Of Cruz and Trump, it is actually Cruz who is the most loathsome, and apparently just as much in person as he is ideologically. Even conservatives hate him. And Donald Trump is right to attack Ted Cruz for his underhand and deceitful campaigning. It’s just that Trump is the only one bold enough to say so.

So, this conservative looks like he can only vote for Marco Rubio unless he truly believes that an impenetrable wall paid for (willingly) by the Mexican government will solve their immigration issue and that depriving Americans of what little state sponsored health care will somehow benefit them (and not the Insurance companies). But Marco Rubio’s a real shit too: only looking moderate in comparison with the others. Not so long ago, his platform would have been considered ridiculously reactionary, but in an America inured to extremism by Fox News, the Bush presidency and the Koch’s billions (not to mention the complicity of America’s fawning media) the man seems the best chance there is for that rational, reasonably, deliberating conservative.

Though, of course, in truth, there’s only been one candidate in the US elections who isn’t a conservative and that person is Bernie Sanders.

Although I’d like to say otherwise, it looks less and less likely that Americans will, for the first time since FDR, be faced with a genuine choice in the coming presidential election.

So, I’d have thought that this principled conservative should vote, given the opportunity, for the least extreme conservative candidate in the American elections for the person who will most represent their interests and still actively promote the big businesses that finance her campaign.

And that conservative candidate can only be Hillary Clinton.


Gravitational Waves

Gravitational Waves

Gravitational Waves

I get the sense that the recent discovery of a means of measuring Gravitational Waves hasn’t attracted the same interest as the discovery of the Higg’s Boson or the discovery of Homo naledi or the excitement of landing on a comet, but it’s pretty impressive stuff.

And the least reason for this isn’t the tool by which it was done, which was to measure the difference between the time it took for laser beams to bounce along two perpendicular 4 km metal bars. The sensitivity of the detectors are absolutely mind-boggling but they have to be given the relatively small distortion in space a far away black hole event will have at this distance (and time difference). I imagine it was far more intense closer to the black holes that were detected: perhaps enough to be observable without special equipment.

Why is the discovery important?

Well, one reason is more mundane but still important, that we now have a means by which we can detect gravitational perturbations that may be much closer to home. For instance, one could imagine it being used to analyse the internal workings of the inside of our planet or for detecting deep-sea submarines (yet further making a total waste of money anything spent on such vanity projects as Trident).

In scientific terms, we should now be able to detect events from the start of the universe until the moment at which the first visible light was generated by the nuclear fusion inside a star. We already know that much of the early universe was very different. Stars were larger. Galaxies more amorphous. And a complete absence of all but the lightest elements. Now we shall discover what was going on before there were stars, before atoms like Hydrogen and Helium assembled and when the universe was much smaller and much hotter.

We also now have a tool to study black holes and other astronomical entities that leave no visible trace of their existence.

All in all, it’s pretty exciting.


Crystal Passion

Pub Gig - John PF

Pub Gig – John PF

The above picture by John PF heralds the publication of the first chapter of my new novel Crystal Passion. It’s a fourteen chapter novel about a British band of musicians who in the 1990s go on tour in America.

There are several notable things about Crystal Passion. One is that the band has rather a lot of members and that all of them, including Crystal Passion herself, are women. Another is that, in this story, Crystal Passion is now posthumously very famous and well-respected whereas at the time of the tour they were virtually unknown, even in the UK.

The novel is partly about how fame and fortune can elude musicians at the peak of their productive life, as it has for Nick Drake, Rodriguez and Robert Johnson, but also about the mythologising of artists’ lives and reputations. The novel is also about the 1990s and that period of time just before the internet, mobile phones and the music industry took its modern shape. And, of course, it is about the differences between Britain and America, which is at least as pronounced now as it was in the 1990s.

It also gives me an opportunity to write a novel full of musical references where I can throw in my more personal experiences and opinions. It is some kind of companion piece to my short stories CreamfieldsExcess and How HIgh the Moon, though I deliberately avoid making the Crystal Passion’s music Dance, Rock or Jazz.

The novel is notable for being written in the first person which is very unusual for me. With the exception of Omega and I Remember Erewhon, I’ve mostly written in the third person. My view is that there has to be a good reason to write a story from the first person perspective, because it is deliberately very limiting and it also opens up fiction to the trope of the unreliable narrator which can sometimes be a good thing and sometimes not. In the case of Crystal Passion the narrator is Pebbles, the band’s keyboard player, and the reason for writing in the first person is that it gives an opportunity to couch the story exclusively from her point of view and allow her prejudices slant the narrative in one direction rather than another.

I’ve posted the first chapter of the novel to my website and also to Literotica and Stories OnLine. Although I think it’s a pretty good novel (I would say that), I don’t expect it’ll be a firm favourite on either site. That was far more likely to happen to the Anomaly Trilogy and  my various Sex Fantasies, but I live in the hope that some of the regular readers might enjoy Crystal Passion.

Freedom of Trade

Ben Frost

Ben Frost


Just over two months since my last short story, I’m posting a new one called Freedom of Trade and already in less than an hour it’s earned nearly two dozen mostly negative votes on Stories Online. But let’s be honest if I was expecting to get positive votes from a website whose readers are predominantly American redneck men who vocally support the more rabidly libertarian tendencies of the Republican Party (but not so much the Bible Belt tendency), I’d never post to the website and would most certainly not post Freedom of Trade.

However, it could be said that the exact target of this story is well chosen in this case as the story is a fairly brutal attack on exactly the most libertarian aspects of the American Dream. It basically posits the notion of what a world that is only a couple of steps away from the real world would be like if the libertarians did indeed have their way and capitalism was truly as free as the Rand Pauls, Ayn Rands, Alan Greenspans, Donald Trumps and the like seem to say they’d like it to be. Although they perhaps might support the open and free sale of guns and pornography, they might draw the line at hard drugs and indentured sex workers (which is just an obfuscation for sex slaves).

In a sense, this story could be seen as a companion piece to Thoroughly Modern Emancipation in the sense that it is a kind of satire on America’s worst traits and its woeful history with regards to the institution of slavery, but there are many differences and they definitely don’t belong to the same universe (to use a Stories Online concept).

Whereas Thoroughly Modern Emancipation is a kind of alternate history story where the slave trade never gets reformed, Freedom of Trade isn’t set in any specific place or time, and it isn’t really set in America. It could just as well be set in any English-speaking country in a kind of parallel present.

So, what’s the purpose of the story besides a way of annoying Stories Online readers in what they believe is a hermetically sealed environment where they can voice their peculiar opinions without fear of contradiction?

Well, inevitably there is the serious side which is to imagine just how untrammelled capitalism might work. The sex slave angle is more just a conceit to build a kind of story around something which is both rather horrible in practice (if you pause to think about it) and also titillating to those who in countless websites (and not just sex story sites) believe that this kind of thing is good fun rather than something nightmarish and squalid (as can be seen in the movie, Room).

And I wonder how much the negative votes the story’s attracted already is simply because this vision of libertarianism is disturbing to exactly those people who most avidly advocate it.