Fiction in 2019 #2 – Ten Stages of War

alternative apoc

“And people are saying, they are actually saying, ‘oh the President is making this up. There are no aliens. They don’t exist’. I can’t believe people are saying that. If I was going to lie, I’d come up with a better lie than that, believe me. But this is the truth. We are under attack. I think you all have a right to know by what.

“The media, they’re not reporting on it. They’re being so dishonest. They won’t report on what Conaxas is capable of. So many capabilities. I can’t believe it. They weaponise everything. Water, water like you wouldn’t believe, so hot and boiling, melts a man in seconds. And, let me tell you, their leaders don’t have to worry about the dishonest media like I do. In fact, they don’t even have media. I know. Sometimes I think, hey, you know, maybe these Conaxasians are onto something. I joke, I joke. It was a joke. The media is very important but only when they’re being honest, and they are being so dishonest right now. They write stories about lies. People come up to them and lie, they say, ‘oh the President is doing this’ and they never even check with me. So dishonest.

“The media is like the Conaxasians; they are basically on the same team. Conaxas has weaponised facts. They don’t believe in them. They just say what they want, and it becomes true. You see that wall, it’s blue right? A lovely blue wall. Been there since Reagan I believe, and I love Reagan. Well in Conaxas, they just go, ‘oh that wall is gold now’ and it is. It is, folks. The wall becomes gold. How do you fight that?”

***

When it comes to ‘Ten Stages of War’, published in B Cubed Press’s Alternative Apocalypse, we have to look to Argentina. The world of literature is vast and glorious. That’s a great thing. The sad downside to this fact is that you’re never going to be able to read every good story. Also, your tastes can become insular, less a comfortable blanket and more a strict prison. There are heroes, though, fighting the good fight in providing us with a chance to broaden our reading: translators.

I owe an enormous debt to Gregory Rabassa for translating Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, and Charlotte Barslund and Emma Ryder for translating Carsten Jensen’s astonishing We, the Drowned. However, the biggest debt might be owed to those translators (too many to list unfortunately) who translated the work of Jorge Luis Borges. Borges was a genius and I urge you to read some of his work. ‘Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote’ is one of the funniest short stories I have ever read. ‘The Garden of Forking Paths’ is dealing with quantum mechanics in literature a decade before quantum mechanics was even being dealt with in science. And ‘Three Versions of Judas’ is a staggering thought experiment even for a non-believer such as myself.

However, one story, seems particularly prescient. ‘Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius’ imagines a world of subjective idealism, where reality itself can be rejected. It is a philosophical issue. It also seems entirely fitting to the political environment of the last four years. We pick our sides. We choose our own subjective reality. There is no objective narrative, only alternative facts.

So, ‘Ten Stages of War’ is a Borgesian tale, a remake of ‘Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius’ in a Trumpian world. There are ten stages until the Earth is a lie.

You can read it in the best-selling Alternative Apocalypse (ebook and paperback):

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