Almost ten years ago Jack Dann and Janeen Webb announced that they were going to compile an anthology of Australian Speculative Fiction, called Dreaming Down-Under. It was an invitation only anthology, but I figured I had nothing to lose so I approached them with a story, which was accepted. Dreaming Down-Under went on to be reprinted in two paperback volumes and win World Best Fantasy.
Last year Jack emailed those authors who had appeared in DDU to say that they were compiling a new anthology to be called Dreaming Again and asked us to submit. I’d been at a convention room party where we got into a discussion about religion and this triggered the idea for a story I called Purgatgory. The premise was that religious fervour was a viral infection which affected brain function and only about 10% of people were immune to it. This was the story accepted for Dreaming Again.
Jack said: When Janeen Webb and I edited Dreaming Down-Under, we had no idea that it would make such and impact, and it’s been exciting doing the sequel Dreaming Again, after a lapse of ten years. It’s been a joy to showcase the talent we have in Australia. The reviews of Dreaming Again have been (so far!) fabulous. Good news, Dreaming Again has gone into a second printing.
Purgatory was an ‘idea’ story. To make this kind of story work I needed strong characters. The narrator, a research scientist is motivated not by ambition or a craving for fame, but by love. Here are the first few paragraphs.
I loved long weekends. Not because I took time off, but because it meant the rest of my team left me alone to work without interruption. Not this long weekend. This time I was going to put my future on the line to prove our antiviral worked and I was going to break the Code of Research Ethics by administering it to my partner, Nathan.
I’d come in early Saturday morning to combine the antiviral with a primitive head-cold virus that I’d synthesized, modifying it to create the perfect carrying agent for my antiviral. The head-cold was designed to strike rapidly and be highly contagious. Dating from last century, I doubted anyone would have immunity.
And I was going to infect Nathan against his will. I felt only a twinge of guilt.
And from there it gets out of her control …