by Jason Werbeloff
~~~~~~~~~~~~~Migraines, Cannibalism, and the Ungodly in Obsidian Worlds
When I first started writing the sci-fi short stories in my anthology, Obsidian Worlds, I was more concerned with having fun than conveying a serious message to readers. I’d just finished writing and releasing my novel, Hedon, and the idea of playing with a quick project – a short story under 5,000 words – seemed like a blissful retreat from the rigors of producing a novel.
In a previous lifetime, I ran a software development business. I learned quickly that the more employees involved in a decision, or executing a task, the greater the risk of error. The more complex things are, the greater the chance they’ll crash and burn. And this is true of writing fiction too. Writing a full length novel yields far more possibilities for inconsistencies, inaccuracies, and typos.
So when I got round to writing the first story in the anthology, Your Averaged Joe, I was thrilled that I could construct a world quickly and easily without worrying about systematic problems. I let my mind roam, and write whatever it liked. Around the same time, I experienced my first migraine. And let me tell you, it was an ungodly experience. In fact, after four hours of it, if I was ever in doubt before, I was now entirely certain that there was no God. To process the experience, I wrote Your Averaged Joe, about a man who (surprise) has a migraine. But his headache is so bad, it grows large enough to contain the multiverse.
Your Averaged Joe started a trend. I began writing more and more shorts, each about a radically different world. But all of the worlds shared a common feature– they took a feeling, a whim, and expanded it to its logical conclusion in a world where that whim was the norm. I wrote Dinner with Flexi after spending an afternoon with a group of gay friends (I’m gay too, by the way). As the afternoon progressed, I realized that many of the jokes revolved around misogyny, and specifically, around degrading the female body. When something smelled dubious in the kitchen, they’d say it smelled of vagina. They’d talk about online gay male dating profiles that specified “no fems” when they talked about the men they were interested in. They talked about breasts as if they were alien creations, meant purely for breastfeeding, and couldn’t possibly be *gasp* pleasant or pleasurable.
That afternoon started me thinking. What would the world be like if this sort of misogyny were both ubiquitous and explicit; if men both expressed and acted on this sort of hatred of women? And the answer was Dinner with Flexi, a world in which women are removed from society, and farmed for their meat and “mammary sauce”. Women are cannibalized, and replaced with female sex bots to satisfy the remaining men. The story is set form the perspective of one of these bots, Flexi.
The anthology began to take shape around the idea of the ungodly. Joe, the man with the multiverse-containing migraine, is a sort of God. And the world of Flexi is, if nothing else, ungodly awful. So I wrote Visiting Grandpa’s Brain, one of the shorter shorts in the anthology. The story is about a world where The End of Days has arrived, the undead have risen up, and the Vatican has achieved world domination. To get with the times, the Vatican possesses the world’s largest search engine, named “Zoogle©” (we all know who this is), and replaces Zoogle’s servers with the brains of the elderly to perform its internet searches. The story is vitriolic in its irreverence, depicting the church as megalomanic zombie-worshipping institution, exploiting the goodwill of the elderly, and perverting the sanctity of the body.
The remaining stories in the anthology flowed from there. Each of them (eleven in total) involve extreme, bizarre, mind-bending thought experiments that extract some core feature of our current society, and magnify it to an absurd conclusion, usually with unholy results. I loved writing the book – at times it felt so good, I felt guilty writing it. And so far, readers seem to have enjoyed it too. The book has over 50 reviews on Amazon, averaging 4.4 out of 5. If you haven’t grabbed your copy yet, what are you waiting for? Here’s the link: http://smarturl.it/ObsidianW
Jason Werbeloff’s short stories have been downloaded over 20,000 times. Obsidian Worlds brings together his 11 best-selling sci-fi shorts into a mind-bending philosophical anthology.
In Your Averaged Joe, a man’s headache is large enough to hold the multiverse. Q46F is an obsessive-compulsive android who finds love in a zombie-embroiled apocalypse. The end of the world isn’t all that bad – The Experience Machine will fulfil your every desire (and some you hadn’t considered). A sex bot dares to dream of freedom in Dinner with Flexi. But mind what you eat, because The Photons in the Cheese Are Lost. Don’t fret though: The Cryo Killer guarantees that your death will be painless, or your money back when you’re thawed. Unless, that is, you’re The Man with Two Legs.
Plug into Obsidian Worlds for these and other immersive stories, including the hilarious Time-Traveling Chicken Sexer. Your brain will never be the same again.
(from Bleed Me Silicone):
My first memory is of the inside of a cardboard box. The material is gray and slightly rough to the touch. It smells of fluorescent light and ancient canyon floors.
Isavor the feeling of being lifted from the shelf – rubbed and jostled against the almost-smooth interior of the box, as I’m carried through the aisles. My new owner places me on the till. The other products and I have talked about this day. Wondered when our time would come. The time to be purchased.
“Would you like a packet for that, ma’am?” the teller asks. I recognize his voice. He does stock-take on Sundays.
“Umm … yes,” says a nervous voice. Nervous, but forgiving. I like her already.
The crinkle-swoosh of plastic competes with the sound of a radio. Sunlight perforates the miniscule holes in the edges of the cardboard that encloses me. I feel warmth for the first time. She drives me home.
The roof of the box opens, and I’m out. In the world. Her face is just as I’d imagined. Elfin and freckled. No frown lines. Her eyes are intense as they follow my instructions.
I tingle at the touch of her fingers. Delicate, careful. Fleshy and warm. Her lips curl into a smile, before she places me at the back of a dark shelf. The other lubes at the store told me this would happen. Life’s not all action for us. But when our owners take us for a night out of the closet, the world comes alive. Or that’s what the other lubes say.
There aren’t many voices in her apartment. I wait patiently at the back of the closet, as the weeks and months pass. Just when I think she’s forgotten me, one warm evening the door of the apartment opens. A man sits on the creaky springs of the bed.
“Are you ready?” His voice is young. Excited.
“Yes,” she says. I know she’s trying not to sound nervous, like she did that day at the store when she purchased me.
And then it begins.
Jason will be awarding a $15 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Jason Werbeloff is a novelist and philosopher. He loves chocolate and his Labrador, Sunny.
He's interested in the nature of social groups, personal identity, freedom, and the nature of the mind. His passion is translating philosophical debate around these topics into works of science fiction, while gorging himself on chocolate.
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Website - read about the author, and the philosophy behind his fiction.