I have a special treat for my readers today – a double feature of sorts. One book – two authors.
My guests today are the bookends of this PUNK anthology. Carol Gyzander, author of Mac and Jeffrey Cook, author of From the Winter Tale.
Fury & Sound
Airships and sky pirates! Brain Modification chips! Technologically enhanced nymphs! Shakespeare goes punk in this first volume of stories from Writerpunk Press (www.punkwriters.com). Profits to go to PAWS Lynwood (www.paws.org), an animal shelter and wildlife rescue.
What happens when you ask a bunch of eclectic writers to write stories inspired by one of the greatest dramatists of all time? And cast the stories in various punk genres: Cyberpunk, Teslapunk, Dieselpunk, Steampunk, Clockpunk.
Result: an innovative collection of stories inspired by the Bard, with a twist! Punk stories show the path not taken or the path that shouldn’t be taken. Let us reshape your world.
We are a small, somewhat anarchic writers’ collective. Sound and Fury: Shakespeare Goes Punk is our first anthology of stories based on the Bard’s work. We have taken the plays that audiences have enjoyed for hundreds of years and reinvented them as punk tales. Featuring comedies and tragedies as well as a wide variety of punk genres, this collection has something for everyone. A spirit of subversive fun is strongly encouraged!
About the Authors:
Stories by Jeffrey Cook, H. James Lopez, Warren C. Bennett, Katherine Perkins, S.A. Cosby and Carol Gyzander.
“Mac” by Carol Gyzander in Sound & Fury: Shakespeare Goes Punk
In a cyberpunk version of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, we find Mac living in a post-apocalyptic world with a moddy chip controlling his human emotions — including his ambition. What will happen when this control is lifted? Will his wife push him on, or will he decide his own fate? Or, perhaps he will set in motion the events that will lead him to a future more grim than even he can imagine.
Fair is foul, and foul is fair
The Precision Castings Factory Manager, Cawdor, stepped into the darkened production bay, his footsteps echoing down the empty hallway behind him. Stopping just inside, the FM frowned and looked around the empty room for the source of the blue glow he thought he had seen. The hulking machines of the production line stood still and silent. The area was lit only by the safety lights at the perimeter of the bay and the yellow work lights of the cleaning bots. He had no idea these would be the last things he would ever see.
FM Cawdor shook his head; the shift time was not complete, yet there was no one working on Mac’s assembly line. Again. Raising his arm, he consulted the data display linked to the moddy chip at the base of his skull, and his frown deepened. He just didn’t get it. Moving to the transport area at the end of the production bay, he saw twelve pallets of completed product snugly stacked and bound, ready for transport at the end of the shift.
He looked up at the short, spiky black hair and piercing eyes of Mac, the day Shift Supervisor of this production line, shown in the group of photographs hanging on the wall. He didn’t understand why Mac kept changing things.
He shook his head again and shrugged. Mac had instituted procedural changes that made things more efficient, and Mac’s workers left before the end of the shift when they had attained their quotas. No other production lines in the factory even met their quotas, much less finished early. FM Cawdor didn’t get the point.
The faint whirring sound of the pair of cleanup bots approached from the other side of the pallets. Bots were ubiquitous, always present; his conscious mind did not even register the faint sound as he walked around the row of pallets with his pocket light, idly double checking the count. One bot swept the floor, and the other scooped up the pile of debris and extended its scoop to dump into the refuse bin on its back.
Coming around the corner of the stack of pallets, Factory Manager Cawdor startled when he finally noticed the bots; he tripped over his own feet and fell directly into the path of the scooper bot that towered above him. It stopped abruptly when it detected the presence of a human within its perimeter, but the unbalanced weight of its extended scooping arm caused it to topple forward and fall onto the Factory Manager, trapping him beneath it.
His cry rang out and echoed across the empty production bay, abruptly silenced as his head struck the floor. No people were nearby to hear, but the scooper bot’s emergency beacon came on immediately, sending a signal to the Corporation’s home system that was passed through the factory network.
The last thing FM Cawdor saw was a series of bots coming towards him out of the storage bay, drawn by the emergency beacon. The sweeper bot extended its squeegee to trap the blood that pooled across the floor from his head.
When they no longer detected his pulse, the bots paused momentarily then continued their cleanup activity. Two bots extended arms with cutting tools on them, and proceeded to dismantle the scooper bot that had been responsible for the death of the Factory Manager. Another one scooped up the man’s dead body onto a rolling cart, straightening his arms and legs with gentle care. He looked as though he was sleeping.
A specialized bot with a red emblem on its side rolled down the hall into the factory bay and stopped by the body. Extending a narrow arm, it felt along the back of the dead man’s skull and inserted a thin probe into the back of his neck. Pulling out the small moddy chip, it inserted the chip into a slot on its own console and sent a signal to the home computer.
Within a matter of minutes, the entire scene had been cleaned and scoured. The bot responsible for the forbidden death of a human had been dismantled, the Factory Manager’s family had been notified of his death and a message sent to the home office. The body of Factory Manager Cawdor was rolling down the hall on the makeshift gurney. The room looked as though he had never entered it.
Moments later, a blue glow shone through the darkness. Three women were standing in a circle in the production bay. A rumbling sounded, like thunder.
“When shall we three meet again? In thunder, lightning, or in rain?” asked the first.
“When all the change has come,” replied the second.
“That’ll be before the day is done,” said the third.
“Then, to the Fringe.” This from the second woman.
“There to meet with Mac.”
All three joined hands and threw back their heads as they laughed. “Fair is foul, and foul is fair. Let us away through the smog and filthy air.” They disappeared, and the blue glow faded.
Carol Gyzander writes under her own name, even though few can spell or pronounce it (think “GUYS and her”). She was a prolific reader of classic science fiction and Agatha Christie mysteries in her early days; since they moved every two years, she had lots of time on her hands as the perpetual new kid. But she became adept at people-watching in order to fit in at each new school, and followed this up by studying anthropology – the study of people and their culture – and lots and lots of English literature at Bryn Mawr College. Now that her kids have flown the coop, she has gone back to her early loves with an amateur detective novel and more science fiction in the works.
Sound & Fury: Shakespeare Goes Punk is a charity anthology.
From The Winter’s Tale by Jeffrey Cook
“Not like that,” Olivier corrected sternly, parrying Treveur’s blade to the side.
“What went wrong that time?” Treveur inquired earnestly.
“You leave yourself open to the riposte,” he replied, demonstrating the maneuver.
“Oh, go easy on the boy,” called Isaac from where he rested in the wings.
“Would you like to take over his lessons, then?” asked Olivier without looking back.
“I daresay I would love to take over his lessons, but we’d start somewhere other than swordplay. He’s already the fourth-best swordsman in a hundred miles.”
“Pray tell, then, where would you begin?” asked Rene, not glancing up from his book. “Drinking, wenching, or fleeing?”
“Fleeing is a highly underrated skill, I’ll have you know. Once upon a time, any real man would accept a duel. Now it’s all firing pistols wildly and angry mobs. What’s a man to do?”
“Perhaps not sleep with wives of men who keep angry mobs within shouting distance?” Rene responded, still without looking up from his book.
“Well how am I to know which those are? Perhaps with more practice, I’ll develop a more discerning eye.”
Olivier shook his head. “Too easily distracted, that’s your problem.” Seeing Treveur’s grin, he rapped him lightly upside the head with the basket hilt of his sword. “And you too. Focus.” Another glance back to the audience. “Besides, the Marquis would have your head if he heard you even suggesting teaching the boy wenching or drinking.”
“He’d have to catch me first,” Isaac countered, not losing his grin. “Fleeing. Very underrated skill.”
Jeffrey Cook lives in Maple Valley, Washington, with his wife and three large dogs. He was born in Boulder, Colorado, but has lived all over the United States. He’s the author of the Dawn of Steam trilogy of alternate-history/emergent Steampunk epistolary novels and of the YA Sci-fi thriller Mina Cortez: From Bouquets to Bullets. He’s a founding contributing author of Writerpunk Press and has also contributed to a number of role-playing game books for Deep7 Press out of Seattle. When not reading, researching, or writing, Jeffrey enjoys role-playing games and watching football.
Katherine Perkins lives in Coralville, Iowa, with her husband and one extremely skittish cat. She was born in Lafayette, Louisiana, and will defend its cuisine on any field of honor. She is Jeff’s editor and sometime co-author on a number of novels and short stories. When not reading, researching, writing, or editing, she tries to remember what she was supposed to be doing.
Write on my friends, write on!