By : Deborah Susan Jones : Editor
One of the pioneering illustrations from the 90's series of short Dark Science Fiction stories that appeared on the web a decade or so ago that formed a prototype electronic commerce project with Barclays Bank in the UK. At that time, it was impossible to trade in small amounts of money electronically over the web and the Bank was experimenting with the idea of a downloadable electronic wallet for use with a credit card. Peter wrote and illustrated the stories that were encrypted web pages synced to the "Barclaycoin" technology, and it worked!
At the end of the project the stories lay dormant until recently, when we decided to assemble them into a book.
"The stories are set in a post-consumer boom environment (the Artist correctly predicted the financial crisis triggered in 2008) and revolve around the emotional traumas experienced by ordinary people suddenly finding themselves cut-off from their daily fix of "urban adrenalin rush" and how the personalities and behavior of inhabitants of the consumer citadel become extended, enlarged, and balloon to grotesque levels.
"The idea came to me one morning as I cut through my small local shopping centre in Wimbledon to the station to go to a meeting. A lady with a child in a baby-buggy, who was the only other occupant of the ground floor we were on, as it was very early, just after opening tine, was SO fixated on the ATM machine I was passing, she cut diagonally across the concourse, from her position totally on the opposite side of it to me, and accelerated at speed, pushing the buggy, collided with the wall on my side of the concourse, turned to almost run, with the buggy, parallel to the wall and I just knew, knew, what she was going to do next, which was to mow me down, on her panic-stricken race to reach the ATM machine close to where I was walking. As she aggressively attempted to drive the buggy up the front of my body and scalp me with the axles I extricated myself at speed, sideways, but the closely following utterance of "Sowwy, sowwy, sowwy, so sowwy" was actually quite amusing because I could tell she wasn't an assassin and really had only one thing exclusively on her mind, the ATM, and I was invisible, screened-out of her consciousness by fear, so desperate was her plight for cash.
"As it happened, the ATM denied her the cash and she spun 'round, heading for the exit shrieking "it's not fair, it's not fair", her dream of morning Cappuccino dashed by her bank's denial of credit, I assumed.
"I sat on the train a little while later, pondering how much stress ordinary people can carry, and what might happen if there were absolutely no limits to how it might affect their behavior."
Killer Robots who hunt down people over their credit limits.
Aliens who invade Earth, because we'd unwittingly used their decedents to build our lifestyles.
Revengeful gangs of giant insects that ride motorcycles, super-bugs, evolved from those left to fend for themselves in abandoned Californian pools of sub-prime mortgaged houses left abandoned by fleeing mortgage debtors.
The "real world" starts to take revenge on the inhabitants of the consumer citadel who failed to see the consequences of oversize pizzas . . . . . . .
"Dark and bleak though the stories are, they do have a bit of a twist of humour."
12 short stories = "12 screams from the near future" (that finally arrived . . . . )
Deborah Susan Jones