My story “Taking It Back” is the first piece in Upper Rubber Boot Books’ just-published anthology Broad Knowledge, the second installment in their ‘Women Up To No Good’ series. “Taking It Back” traces the unexpectedly dangerous social, political and existential effects of an invention allowing the user to travel back in time up to 50 seconds in order to undo embarrassing experiences. I’m not altogether sure whether it is a cautionary fable or a farce. It’s one possible explanation for the progress of political polarization and ‘fake news,’ though I wrote it back in 2015 when I had never heard of Donald Trump. The editor, Joanne Merriam, says, just as accurately and perhaps more enticingly, that it’s a tale “where knowledge is monetized but ignored until reality itself is in jeopardy.” You can read the beginning of the story free with Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature.
Merriam describes the whole collection as “a feminist anthology of dark fiction and darker knowledge.” I haven’t gotten to read the rest of the stories yet (my contributor copies are still in the mail and eagerly awaited.) I hadn’t initially thought about “Taking It Back” as a feminist story, but it’s true that the scientists whose discoveries drive the story–the reclusive quantum psychophysicist who explains the dangers of the only method of temporal regression she has yet developed(and explains the method in order to explain the dangers), the PR-savvy quantum mechanic who figures out how to make and market a regression device employing that method while ignoring the dangers, and the researcher trying to understand the device’s effects as they unfold in real time–are all women. I thought that making them of mixed genders would imply something I didn’t intend about the relative shortsightedness/irresponsibility of men and women, and the psychophysicist, Alma Weltanschauung, had already appeared in another of my stories and was clearly female, so… I’m grateful that the people and the stories I grew up with taught me that women are people and just as capable of being scientists, visionaries, reformers, reactionaries, con artists, etc. as men are.