Nature Future Conditional

The story behind the story: Bread of life

Bread is at the heart of this week’s Futures tale. Written by Beth Cato, Bread of life transports us into a difficult future where the human race (or what’s left of it) exists largely on crumbs. This is Beth’s third story for Futures — she has also given us the Canopy of skulls and has undertaken Post-apocalyptic conversations with a sidewalk. You can catch up with what Beth’s been up to at her website, where you will also find details of her novel, The Clockwork Dagger, and an exceptional selection of baking recipes. Beth kindly offered to reveal what inspired her latest story — as ever, it’s best to read the story first

Writing Bread of life

I’m part of a supportive site for neo-pro writers called Codex. A recent writing challenge on the site asked us to consider story prompts on Friday evening and turn in a story by Sunday night. The result had to be under 750 words, and was subject to voting among other anonymous participants.

On this particular week, my prompt of choice was a Markov chain, a computerized jumble of text. As I skimmed through, one word stood out several times: ‘bread’.

This would make anyone who knows me smile and nod. See, every Wednesday at, I post an illustrated recipe in a feature called Bready or Not. I’m known for my evilly decadent cookies and other carbohydrate-laden recipes.

My brain churned through different ways to write a story about bread, and I thought of the actual meaning of the stuff. People enjoy my blog because love of bread and sweets is universal. How could I frame that within science fiction?

I wrote up Bread of life within the weekend. When I submitted it to the contest, I added a note, “I bet some of you will guess who I am by the subject of this story.”

Sure enough, within days a few folks did indeed guess my identity. It makes me laugh. Beth Cato = bread. That’s a word association with which I can happily live.


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