Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Midnight Echo 6 interviews: Mark Farrugia

Midnight Echo 6, the Science Fiction Horror special is well and truly out, in electronic and print versions. For the last interview it seems appropriate we speak with the last author in the collection, Mark Farrugia and his end of the world story “Seeds”.


1. What is your favourite Sci-fi horror novel or short story and why?

Darwinia by Robert Charles Wilson is my favourite SF-horror novel. I’ve always been fascinated by the concepts of fractured realities and merging planes of existence. Combine those with a computer simulation designed to preserve intergalactic consciousness, which has been infected by a virus, and I am hooked.

As for SF-horror short stories there are lots of classics that spring to mind. We Can Remember It for You Wholesale by Philip K. Dick and To Serve Man by Damon Knight were SF-horror I enjoyed years ago. More recently I have enjoyed Jason Fischer’s Jesusman series, Stroboscopic by Alastair Reynolds, A Hundredth Name by Christopher Green and The Laughing Girl of Bora Fanong by John Dixon and Adam Browne.

2. Tell us about your story and what your influences are?

“Seeds” is set in a dystopian version of Melbourne, which has reverted to a regressive theocracy. It’s a brutal world and I am sure it won’t appeal to everyone.  

Influences? The idea for “Seeds”  was inspired by the work of New Zealand born, Melbourne writer Paul Haines. For a long time I couldn’t get Paul’s story “Wives” out of my mind, especially the voice of the main character Jimbo. As an aside, I was also working in State politics at the time I wrote “Seeds”, perhaps that influenced my perspective too.

On a subconscious level at least, “Seeds” was also influenced by other dystopian fiction I’ve read over the years. V for Vendetta and Watchmen (Alan Moore), On The Far Side Of The Cadillac Desert With The Dead Folks (Joe R Lansdale), 1984 (George Orwell), Undead Camels Ate My Flesh (Jason Fischer), Y – The Last Man (Brain Vaughan), Frank Miller (Sin City, The Dark Knight Returns) and Philip K Dick (too many stories to list) have all influenced me somewhat with the unique worlds they’ve created.

3. Tell us something about yourself as a writer that isn't common knowledge?

I’ve written a sequel to “Seeds”. It’s called “The March of the Amputee”.

Mark Farrugia

I think his name is Martin but the *doof-doof* beat from the bar outside is too loud for me to be certain exactly what he said. Shirt open and leaning against the basin, his body is doused in sweat. Like rotting wood in an overgrown paddock, a crucifix lies partially hidden amongst the grey hairs on his chest. It trembles with each beat of his heart, but I know this man doesn’t believe in God. Not really; if he did he wouldn’t be here with me. Inside the churches and cathedrals we are forced to pay homage on our knees, but out here in the real world there are other ways to pay tribute, other sacrifices to make.

It’s over. I rub my throat. I should get up but my legs are still numb from kneeling against the cold tiled floor.

Skin like ash, the sombre lines that scar Martin’s face are visible through short stubble. He lights a cigarette and exhales rings of smoke. I used to be able to do that. Now it just makes my eyes water, distorting my vision. For a moment, in the full-length mirror behind Martin, the image of me merges with him and he looks down at me like a perverted reflection.

Shit. My head knocks against the washbasin. Yellow-brown stains and a swab of squashed gum cling to the porcelain. On top of the basin a fold of $100 bills, weighed down by a lump of dirty soap, waits for me. The money is mine. I’ve fucking earned it.

As Martin zips up, I stand. The taste of latex is strong but I know it’s better than the mouthful trapped inside the flaccid rubber. Using the sheath and receiving five hundred instead of four were the only concessions I could gain. My minor victories, I suspect, are the little sacrifices Martin makes to keep his conscious clear. Perhaps the crucifix weighs heavier than I thought. Religion; it’s all about sacrifice, isn’t it?

Did a man called Jesus really die for me? Is that even possible? I suspect he just died and the rest is bullshit. Martin drapes his shirt over the crucifix, concealing it as he does up the buttons. The God symbol is gone. He puffs more smoke and the end of the cigarette edges towards his fingers.
The Righteous say humanity is going to Hell. It’s been almost 75 years since the last female was born. The few alive are all too old to give birth—cunts as dry as the Simpson Desert—but they were harvested for their eggs when they were younger. The Harvest was a blessing, but the supply of eggs will soon be exhausted. The Righteous say the X-Zone Virus is God’s way of forcing man to repent. Repent for what? Guys like Martin and I, we said fuck it and took a different path.

Biography – Mark Farrugia

Mark Farrugia’s writing credits include the blood n’guts dragon fantasy A Bag Full of Arrows, which received an honorable mention from Ellen Datlow for 2010, and the vampire comic series Allure of the Ancients (illustrated by Greg Chapman). His fiction has appeared in Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine (ASIM) 48, Midnight Echo 3, 5 and now 6, Borderlands 11, Eclecticism 12 and AntiopdeanSF. BestScienceFictionStories.com declared Mark’s flash fiction amongst its favorites of 2009 and 2010.  Mark edited ASIM46 and co-edited ASIM Best of Horror Volume 2. Mark is the AHWA’s Critique Group Manager.

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