Matthew De Abaitua
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James has a scar in the back of his head. It’s where he was wounded in the Battle of Suvla Bay in August 1915. Or is the scar the mark of his implant that allows the Process to fill his mind with its own reality?
In IF, the people of a small English town cling on after an economic collapse under the protection of the Process. But sometimes people must be evicted from the town. That’s the job of James, the bailiff. While on patrol, James discovers the replica of a soldier from the First World War wandering the South Downs. This strange meeting begins a new cycle of evictions in the town, while out on the rolling downland, the Process is methodically growing the soldiers and building the weapons required to relive a long lost battle.
In THEN, it is August 1915, at the Battle of Suvla Bay in the Dardanelles campaign. Compared to the thousands of allied soldiers landing on this foreign beach, the men of the 32nd Field Ambulance are misfits and cranks of every stripe: a Quaker pacifist, a freethinking padre, a meteorologist, and the private (once a bailiff) known simply as James. Exposed to constant shellfire and haunted by ghostly snipers, the stretcher-bearers work day and night on the long carry of wounded men. One night they stumble across an ancient necropolis, disturbed by an exploding shell. What they discover within this ancient site will make them question the reality of the war and shake their understanding of what it means to be human…
File Under: Science Fiction [ Trust the Process | A Debate With Bullets | Algorithms For War | Omega John ]
day crowd merged with the men and women trooping in from the outlying estates and villages, their particular district denoted by the patterns upon their baggy knitted jumpers: yellow and black for Nevill, the black and white of Cliffe, the red and black of Southover, the purple and black of Glynde, and so on, as far afield as the blue and white of Isfield. Children rode on the back of empty carts, the whites of their eyes shining in lean dirty faces. Ruth’s hand tightened around his. They found
cynical and houndish, with deeply scored features, bloodshot eyes and swollen fingers that indicated a neglected medical condition. “The Process can make anything from a pattern but I’d be out of a job if it started making things that original.” The blacksmith wiped the oil from his hands with a rag and appraised James from head to toe. “You’re not using the armour, bailiff?” “Not today.” “Is it broken again?” During the Seizure, James had stood on this very grass, forty feet high in the
as councillor. Ruth headed up the steep cobbled Keere Street. The houses were strung with district colours, elderly residents in their gardens, curious at her agitated state. They all knew the names on the eviction list, but had put the matter aside as the responsibility of the bailiff. He would perform the necessary but unacceptable act, and bear the consequences. She wanted to shout out to them as she ran by: we can stop this. Gaining the top of Keere Street, she ran out into the high street,
called a staff meeting to discuss what to tell the children about the distant explosions. The other teachers were anxious. Should the school close? Clara canvassed their opinions, pointedly ignoring Ruth, excluding her from debate. She waited until they had all spoken before she informed the meeting that James had gone to investigate the source of the explosions. “That’s brave of him,” said Clara. Ruth just wanted Clara to know that she and James still had a role to play. “Does he know what is
silence. Men, most decidedly not soldiers, despite months of drill. The drill that bored. Stumbling over the Downs, shedding his clothes, dropping his pack, cold and naked; and then Hector handing him a uniform in a transparent box. The long boredom was at an end. War, finally. And no matter how vividly he imagined war, no matter how much he tries to anticipate dying, he is prepared for neither. The men are silent under orders. There is nothing to say anyway. Nothing worth saying. Sergeant