An encore presentation of Chapter Eleven of SILVER BROWN awaits those who dare drink from the poisoned chalice that is Facebook. At a rate of one page a day, as usual. I might throw in the next chapter after that, if I feel like it.
On a somewhat distantly related note, the Zuckerverse brings to mind the Holy Grail scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, if we think of Dr. Schneider as a metaphorical personification of the platform’s now-infamous algorithm and rechristen her male Nazi colleague with the name of Karen. I totally get symbolism.
Chapters Eleven and Twelve of SILVER BROWN are presently being cast into the Twitterverse for the reading pleasure of the good people of Planet Earth. My normal shtick is to tweet these chapters at a rate of one page a day, but I think this time around I’ll do something a little bit different and only do that for Chapter Eleven. Twelve is an offshoot of Eleven, a by-product of the many countless rewrites Eleven underwent. It consists of only two pages, and reads more like an epilogue to Eleven than a chapter in its own right. So I might just tweet Twelve in its entirety in one fell swoop as a grand finale.
These are the first chapters in the book that are narrated by any character other than Florys MacNab. Both are written from the point of view of the story’s villains. To accentuate that point, the narrative styles of each of these chapters are a pronounced departure from Florys’ characteristic vernacular. Chapter Eleven is written in epistolary form, while Twelve has more of a stream-of-consciousness vibe to it. David Wong (a.k.a. Jason Pargin, the former editor of Cracked.com) used this technique to great effect in his comic horror masterpiece John Dies at the End, which featured nefarious entities from other dimensions that were introduced to the audience through excerpts from (fictional) textbooks. Some variant of that technique was bound to find its way into my own yarn.
Machinations of the SAAZMOL organization that were only casually alluded to in the earlier chapters are portrayed in all their eldritch unglory at this point in the story. There’s a remote chance these chapters might be high-octane nightmare fuel for some people, but I would opine they’re way less frightening than the current zeitgeist. Compared to the news headlines of any given day in 2020, these chapters are about as scary as the scariest episode of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.
Facebook is like a knife. It can either be a tool or a weapon, depending on the intent of the person wielding it. The problem with their whole business model is that Zuckerberg operates like a unwashed crazy man in a trenchcoat who lives in his van and hands out knives like candy to all the kids in the neighbourhood. With little concern for the consequences. Educating the kids on responsible knife use is always somebody else’s job, and it’s even economically beneficial to encourage knife fights every once in a while in order to draw a large crowd.
The questionable business practices of the guy who gave me this knife aside, I may as well put it to good (i.e. not evil) use. Spreading some of that good literary Nutella all over the bread of the Internets. Specifically, an encore presentation of the tenth and eleventh chapters of SILVER BROWN. One page a day, as usual. Designated in the book as Chapters Niner (not a typo) and Ten. Because the first chapter is Chapter Zero – an allusion to computer science, in keeping with the story’s theme.
These chapters got a better reception on Twitter the first time out than I thought they would, all things considered. I’ll probably do a bit more editing on them down the road, just not now. The storyline involves my main character swallowing something which brings out some of the uglier aspects of her personality. Kind of like the way some people get when they have their third stiff drink of the evening in one hand and their smartphone in the other.
I wasn’t sure what kind of public appetite there would be for such a plot development, in light of the sheer magnitude of Whiskey Tango Foxtrot the world has seen lately. The other day I read of the man who gave us the darkly brilliant Black Mirror, who recently announced his decision to postpone production of a new season. Not merely because of the coronavirus, but more so because he felt Black Mirror couldn’t possibly compete with the level of melancholy in the current real world. I ultimately decided not to pull a Charlie Brooker. If this or any other yarn was all unicorns and rainbows and sunshine, it would be überboring as a story.
Speaking of Black Mirror, the whole eerie quotient is part of what I love about it. A lot of the episodes could plausibly happen next week. Behold, the very essence of Instagram culture, magnificently captured on celluloid…