Having just had a week off work I’ve been catching up on the last few issues of Interzone. #227, the March-April issue, contained a story called ‘Johnny’s New Job’, written by Chris Beckett.
It’s a scathing, damning criticism of the media, government and mob mentality that always forms in the fallout of mass hysteria caused by particularly tragic circumstances. In this particular case Chris is dealing with the reaction to the death of a child and how, in a desperate attempt to lay blame somewhere, anywhere, it usually ends up with a scapegoat being selected and ritually sacrificed, while the core problems remain unaddressed. As a theme it resonates not just with child welfare but also the reactions to religious extremism, terrorism, copyright infringement and just about anything else that humans like to get irrationally militant about.
It’s written in a joyful, sing-song adventure kind of way, it’s horrific irony dripping from every sentence – reminiscent of V For Vendetta, in places, I thought. The whole story plays out like a bad joke, leading up to an inevitable conclusion. It makes its points without having to belabour the point and doesn’t outstay its welcome.
‘Johnny’s New Job’ should probably be required reading to school children – not to mention Daily Mail, Fox and Sky News editors.
I don’t believe the short story is online anywhere, but you can find out more about it and the author at his own website.