Nature Future Conditional

The story behind the story: Contagion in tranquil shades of grey

This week, Futures is delighted to welcome back Deborah Walker with her latest story, Contagion in tranquil shades of grey. Regular readers will know that over the years Deborah has written quite a few tales for Futures (see the links at the foot of this post), and it is nice to have prised her away from the British Museum to write a new piece for us. You can find out more about Deborah’s work at her website or by following her on Twitter. Here, she reveals what inspired her latest tale — as ever, it pays to read the story first.

Writing Contagion in tranquil shades of grey

This seed of this story was the Amish Rumspringa. I was browsing through Wikipedia, as I often do, on a research mission for another story, when I hyperlinked to the Rumspringa, the time when some Amish teens experience the English lifestyle. I wondered about a people who were very different from our own, very calm, and like the Amish, a people who gave their youngsters an opportunity to taste the mainstream.

I imagined these emotionless people, drugged to their eyeballs, calm, inscrutable, and knew that they had to be Sphinx.

It’s interesting to tell a story from the point of view of an exception, in my case Dr Hyde, a Sphinx who didn’t follow the rules, who lived in the heat of an emotional life.

It’s a story about emotion and speculation. I imagine that a lack of emotion leads to longer life, an unfounded speculation, although emotions can sure wear you out.

I wonder, would we live longer without emotions, or would it merely seem like longer? Have the Sphinx adapted, does the merest whisper of feeling cause them pleasure or pain? Or are they truly experiencing life as colourless?

Longer life or not.  It’s not a bargain I would choose.

More Futures stories by Deborah:

When the Cold comesGood for somethingFace in the darkSybilSurrendered humanFirst footGlass futureOvoidsGreen futureAuntie MerkelThe frozen hive of her mind


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