The Glorifying Terrorism Drabbles – the people’s choice

So I ran a competition to win my spare copy of the Glorifying Terrorism anthology. I think it’s fair to say that I had less entrants than I expected. In that I had two. Yes, two. Not very many at all, really. But hey, better than none, and they’re both strong pieces.

The weird thing being that having to make a choice between two stories is a lot harder than making a choice between a larger set. I like both of the entries, and for very different reasons. So I’m going to throw this one out to public vote after posting the stories without the names of their writers – please vote in the comments below.

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1 – {untitled}

The refugees packed the quays in the sticky heat, desperate to get the next boat out. On the edge of the crowd, Kate took a tight hold on her heavy duffel bag as the guards, using batons and curses, tried to get the queue moving. A single tear ran down her cheek. In her hand, she held a memory stick containing a download of her own personality, aged eight.

“I’m doing this for you,” she said. Then she dropped it into a plant pot, knowing someone would find it after the explosion, that they’d revive the little girl stored within.

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2 – Guy Fawkes Day

“New musical will blow you away!” crows the Standard. “A spectacular production,” opines the Times, “with state-of-the-art pyrotechnics and stunning performances from the principals.” “Guy Fawkes’ Day (Whitehall Theatre) proves,” observes the Guardian, “that there is no episode of history so bloody that it cannot be made into an entertainment for the masses.” “An even-handed account,” muses the Independent, “though purists will decry the anachronistic motivations of Fawkes and his friends.” But: “Don’t mention the T word!” screams the Daily Mail, warning that “terrorism, in any ‘Guys’, must not be celebrated”.

There is no second night.

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Vote, vote, vote!

11 thoughts on “The Glorifying Terrorism Drabbles – the people’s choice”

  1. Oops – you would’ve had three, but I entirely forgot about the competition…

    I love Guy Fawkes Day, my vote is definitely for that.

  2. I did have a head scratch over such a drabble but my lack of writing experience kept throwing up brick walls.

    I’ll vote for the Guy Fawkes one too.

    Wimp 😉

  3. Number 1 is easily superior. Number 2 is a nice, jokey, referential twist-in-the-tail thing (it presses the ‘Guy Fawkes’ buttton), but very forgettable.

    Number 1 is evocative, makes you both wonder what is going on, and what will happen. So my vote’s for No. 1.

    Irrespective of who wins, I’ll be interested to know who the writer of drabble number 1 is.

  4. Hmm, Jetse, I beg to differ. I thought {1} was quite good but veered too close to being maudlin for my liking. In addition, as a piece of flash fiction there’s too much that’s unexplained (why the bomb? why the quay? how did she record her personality as an eight year old? – all questions that, left open, I found lacked resonance) and it’s unclear exactly how it fits the “glorifying terrorism” theme.

    By contrast, I thought {2} was a witty response to the concept as well as an erudite commentary on the British media, a principle generator and expeditor of the concept of terrorism.

    They’re both good, but the flaws of {1} but {2} on top for me.

  5. Sean–

    If the intent of flash fiction is to explain *everything*, then {2} is obvious the superior piece. If (flash) fiction must answer all questions, it loses all resonance, and becomes a lecture.

    I agree that {2} is witty and ironic, but once it’s made its point its gone: it doesn’t resonate. A bit like a good party joke: high enjoyable on the moment when it’s told, but the next day for the life of you, you can’t remember it anymore.

    {1}, on the other hand, forces you to think. To wit:

    why the bomb?

    Indeed, why? What goes through the minds of people that commit those acts? On the banks of the Jordan, in Baghdad, in Afghanistan, New York, London, and Madrid.

    why the quay?

    She targetting a boat full of refugees. Why does she target them? I don’t know, but there are more acts of terrorism/mass murder/genocide that I fail to understand. Ask the Hutus and Tutsis, the Serbs, Croats and Bosnians, or the people in Darfur.

    Sometimes the line between genocide and terrorism is blurred. Also, isn’t the killing of unarmed, unprepared bystanders for politcal purposes a hallmark of terrorism?

    how did she record her personality as an eight year old?

    I don’t know, but is it important for the story at hand? In SF, not all technologies are explained or possible (FTL, time travel anyone?). The point is that she *has* a record of herself as an eight year old, which will be used for her cause.

  6. Jetse – message received and understood.

    Shaun – The original version of {1} was 180 words long. Maybe I cut too much out of this version?

    For the record, the original went like this:

    Two of the guards dropped the dead woman off the quay, into the sea. Her legs twitched as they let her go. Her eyes were still open. The other refugees shrank back, muttering with fear.

    Why had she run into their bullets like that? What did she know?

    On the edge of the crowd, Kate took a tight hold on the duffel bag containing the bomb as the guards, using batons and curses, tried to get the queue moving again. A single tear ran down her cheek. The dead woman had been a decoy, a distraction allowing Kate to slip unquestioned into the queue for the ship.

    In her pocket, she carried her insurance policy – a memory stick containing a download of her own personality, aged eight, which she’d treasured for the last decade.

    “I’m doing this for you,” she said to her stored younger self. And then she dropped the stick into a plant pot, knowing someone would find it after the explosion, that they’d revive the little girl stored within.

    “I hope you make more of your life than I have,” she said.

  7. I like the short version best. I like having to imagine what’s happening and filling in the blanks.

    Has interzone ever published any Flash fiction recently? I recall a one page story for Christopher Priest a while ago, not sure on the word length.

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