Hello all, Phillip here,
I want your input for my next free story. As many of you know from reading Who Built The Humans?, I enjoy jumping between serious and silly science fiction.
I want you to decide which way I turn for the next story posted to this newsletter. So what say you, serious, or silly?
I’ve hidden the total vote count because I don’t want you being unjustly manipulated by the mindwaves of your fellow readers. If you’re feeling serious or silly, don’t be ashamed of it. Vote freely.
To be clear, your vote for the short story schedule won’t stop Earthloop or The Stephanie Glitch posts. Those are still coming as and when they are ready. The fourth and final part of Beyond Uncertain Stars is scheduled to release soon as well.
I have never quite managed to split my serious and satirical work, believing both to be close branches of the same literary thought experiment.
WBTH1 was structured so that it could react to its readers’ preferences, allowing a build-your-own-adventure style narrative to weave itself between the 47 composite chapters/stories. If you wanted funny, it would give you funny. If you wanted serious, it would give you serious. If you wanted both, well, you could just read it from left to right. That’s how normal people read books you know.
That said, WBTH1 did actively discourage normalcy.
And WBTH2 will build upon and refine this formula.
WHO BUILT THE HUMANS? TWO
Another novel-sized collection of existentialist sci-fi short stories and comedy, WBTH2 is an expansion on the lore and weirdness of the first. Crystal Susan makes a daring return as the deadly engine of a prayer-targeting laser beam machine, Barry Binbag shows up a lot and reads a poem so boring the universe dies, and Tin foil Tim is now a professor of somethingorother and he doesn’t believe in aliens any more, despite half his students being aliens.
It’s weirder than the first.
Anyway, today’s poll foreshadows your experience reading WBTH2.
WBTH2 employs a new storytelling technique that leans further into audience participation than the first.
At the start of each chapter you will be presented with an idea (such as mushrooms becoming sentient) and you will then get to choose between an answer, silly or serious. From there, the book will show you a story that suits your mood, and at the end of that story you may be given another idea and another choice to make.
Eventually, the book will run out of stories to show you. That’s an issue most books have thanks to how time works, and I refuse to be held responsible for it.
But fear not! You can, as with WBTH1, reread WBTH2 a lot of times and get more value out of it. My most dedicated readers have read WBTH1 three times now, with only a handful discovering the weird secret connections between its 11 constituent universes. Re-readability is one of my core values as a writer, it’s why I take so long publishing the things.
Today’s poll was not just a sample of the decision-making part of WBTH2. The result of the poll will determine which new WBTH2 story I publish here for free. Both choices lead to an unpublished WBTH2 story, and it’s up to you which one will be published here.
Silly or serious… a hard choice.
It’s entirely up to you.
This upcoming WBTH2 story will be for subscribers only, so if you’re here from outside Substack and haven’t subscribed yet, consider it. It’s free and grants you access to one free short story or chapter per month, forever.
Still here? I’ve also joined this Magic Realism bookshelf for today’s Fiction Friday. It is running until the end of May, a mere 4.67 days away at the time of writing. Just click the FF logo or the button below.
I voted for silly.
If Barry's boring poem makes the universe die, will quoting the poem also lead the one who reads it to share the same fate? (I think I may have just stumbled onto a Stephen King novel with that question).