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The Crummy.com Review of Things 2022 >

The Procedure Sign: My bad-dystopia-SF parody "The Procedure Sign" is out in Issue #16 of Etherea Magazine, a steal at USD $2.

Tommy stared at a blank concrete wall painted hospital green. He heard the hot-air hum of a projector starting up behind him. He squished his eyes closed, but the headband gave him an electric shock that jolted them open.

I did not expect to ever sell this story, because its satire skates so close to the edge of being simply bad. "The Procedure Sign" was directly inspired by an item in the ancient Strange Horizons "Stories We've Seen Too Often" list:

A mysteriously-named Event is about to happen ("Today was the day Jimmy would have to report for The Procedure"), but the nature of the Event isn't revealed until the end of the story, when it turns out to involve death or other unpleasantness. [Several classic sf stories use this approach, which is one reason we're tired of seeing it. Another reason is that we can usually guess the twist well ahead of time, which makes the mysteriousness annoying.]

More seriously, the story was also inspired by the experience of my own mysterious Event: being baptized into the LDS church when I was eight. Assuming the story has any real emotional edge, that's where it comes from.

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