Johnny’s New Job, by Chris Beckett

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.


95,142 – interference range

Slowly but surely, slowly but surely. Another 830 words since the last update. Not nearly fast enough, but nonetheless heading in the right direction. I’ve finished a major action set piece and am now indulging in a highly atmospheric reveal of Aviar (or its fate), a city important to the main plot thrust. There’s lots of rain and dripping leaves: I’m enjoying it.

Life continues to get in the way, though. It’s appraisal time at FXhome, for example, and this time it’s all being taken rather seriously and involves sheets and forms and stuff, so my evenings are being taken up with that somewhat. Come Tuesday that’ll all be done and dusted, though, and hopefully with me still having a job. The weekend was fairly busy, too, with a pleasant retirement do on the Saturday (attended by MP Ian Gibson and an important Army Chap, don’t you know) followed by the inevitable trip to the pub. Sunday involved an optician’s appointment where I discovered that they can now produce my contact lenses as daily disposables – marvellous! We also discovered The Wire for the first time, which is quite fantastic. Having also started watching Entourage, I’m wondering how on earth I’ve overlooked them both for so many years. The new issue of Interzone arrived and it has a superbly jaunty front cover.

So, yes. Progress, then. Just slower than desired. And the new season of Battlestar Galactica begins tonight on Sky, so it’s really not looking too good.

But I shall persevere, and I’m determined to make a completed first draft by the end of February, regardless of its actual quality! That’s what editing is for, after all.

39 days left.