I have another story out! “Happiness” is a choose-your-own-ending novelette that’s free to read in the April issue of Clarkesworld. It’s a bit of an experimental piece, as I’ve never done something of this format before – and it’s deeply, horribly cynical. It may be one of the most cynical things I’ve ever written, and that includes the bears story that was in Strange Horizons a while back.
When it comes to writing about climate, I admit that I bounce between flat-out dystopia and more optimistic stories. I think the optimistic ones may have more value, but there are times when I just can’t resist the former. This is one of those times. “Happiness” is a misnomer. Every ending you choose, you die. You also die happy. Yes, every time. That happy ending tends to be earned, and not in a good way. The unnamed protagonist – and this is a novelette told entirely in the second person, another experimental departure for me! – is honestly not the brightest. Their total lack of awareness, and sometimes even of empathy, means that they never quite realise what’s happening to them, and how their choices, choices that they’re completely certain of, seal their stupid fate. They’re basically a walking Darwin Award, and they never know it. And because they never know it, they die happy, still in the illusion that they’re doing the right thing.
I quite like the choose-your-own-ending format, which is a throwback to when I used to read those types of books as a kid. I think I’d like to try it again one day, but maybe not immediately. Still, it’s good to try new things, creatively, and I’m super grateful that Clarkesworld was willing to let me experiment in their pages.