Hole Punch by Garth Simmons Genre: SciFi, Fantasy, Humor Anthology
HOLE PUNCH is:
The height of the Earth Empire – where War Bricks flatten alien civilisations.
Yorkshire 1985 – where a child's mind is patched together with trauma.
Ancient Greece – where Socrates discovers a carnal method of time-travel.
Mars 2348 – where crime and terror haunt the Martian Habitation Domes.
The Mistake's skull – where Muscle Society achieves self-destruction.
Delaware Dost – where mindfulness prevails and hierarchy is understood.
The End of Everything – where convert concepts welcome refugees into the folds of theory.
All these places (and many more!) reside within the tangled text of Hole Punch.
Richard walked to the Organarium, coughing and spluttering in the brown air.
The Organarium was just as he had expected: lots of organs.
Richard gave them his donation slip. He wanted the full removal of his parts. He offered them everything but they didn't want any of it. They told him that he was too sick inside.
Richard walked home, coughing and spluttering in the brown air. He opened the lid of his metal coffin and climbed inside. He cuddled the bones of his non-departed wife. “I know,” he replied to her voice in his head. “I'll have to think of some other way to pay the off the mortgage.” She suggested taking her remains to the glue yard. “I don't want to be even more alone.” She was right though. If he died without paying off the mortgage then they would upload his consciousness into the Data Pits. Then he wouldn’t be able to get out until he had mined enough Bit Coins to pay his way into oblivion.
Richard dragged his wife's old bones in a sack, careful not to drop any of her parts. He coughed and spluttered his way through the brown air.
The glue man was sympathetic at first. He gave Richard a swig of cough medicine. It didn't do much but aggravate the boils in Richard's throat. The glue man took his wife's bones and ground them into glue. Richard cried when he heard her voice: “Goodbye Richard. Don't blame me for not getting insurance on our air conditioning.” He cried dry tears as her bones were crushed. The glue man gave him twenty-five credits and a wireless dehumidifier. He pleaded for more but was told to leave.
Richard coughed and spluttered his way back home through the brown air. Caught on the chain of the inevitable.
Precisely at nine thirty they came, like it said on their transmission, they are never late and never early. They pulled Richard out of his lonely, metal coffin and zapped him with their shock guns. “This one thought he could outrun debt!” one of them laughed beneath a gas mask. They threw Richard's electrified body into their collection carriage. He lay on a pile of half conscious bodies, all coughing and spluttering in the brown air.
Richard's brain was injected with liquid plastic to ready his imprint for upload into the Data Pits. Richard wished that his wife had gotten insurance on the air conditioning. Paying to fix the air conditioning is what got them into debt in the first place. He loved her but he can't forgive her. That was the greatest pain of all, that he could never forgive his one true love.
Garth Simmons was born in 1981 in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, UK in 1981. He’s a visual artist who’s made paintings, installations, animations and pattern designs. He has had exhibits everywhere from Scarborough to Los Angeles. His pattern designs were in the Golden Globes and Fashion Times and he likes to remind people of this. Writing has always been a feature of his artwork. He would write directly onto his artwork, or by collaging “stream of consciousness” notes.
In 2015, whilst working in a data entry position for Siemens, he began writing short stories as Facebook posts. At first they were daydreams of outrageous acts he could commit whilst at work (if he were professionally or ethically allowed). Later they were stories in other settings. Some dark memoirs of times in various school settings and learning programmes (for those who are “not on the right level”).
These stories resonated with his social media followers. He was encouraged to put them into a collection and seek out publication. While putting these stories into a contextual order he realised they formed a larger narrative. A tapestry of recurring themes, settings and characters. They made up a larger biographical webwork and subjective statement on the world. A hole punched through this fabric, hence the title Hole Punch.
Since completing Hole Punch, he has been working on three long-form novels. Also he has an actual short story collection comprised of several 10’000 word stories. He also does a podcast called Slanderhour and has an EP in the works. His philosophy is that “the more things you make, the more you enjoy your own company”.
Apart from creativity, he loves cats, mochas, wearing blazers, arthouse films and many ropey science fiction series.
How did you first start writing Hole Punch and at what point did you consider yourself to be an author?
In 2015 I was working in a pretty boring data entry job. I actually like boring data entry jobs as they give my brain time to do its own thing. I dreamt up lots of stories and I'd share those stories on social media. I got a very positive response from this, which encouraged me to write more. I'm very fortunate to have had such a boost to my self-confidence so early on. Also to have a book published a few years later.
Hole Punch contains lots of settings; from times of antiquity to the futuristic. You said you started writing Hole Punch as short stories. At what point did these stories begin to tie together into a larger narrative?
This first occurred during the editing process. I began to see it less as a short story collection and more as a pattern of stories which converge and diverge. In redrafting the book I started to colour code certain sections to signify their meaning. These became motifs and symbols which guided an ongoing narrative. The different settings simply provide plenty of variety for the reader.
So do you consider it to be less of an anthology and more of a novel?
It's rewarding to read it chronologically but it can be read at random. You can treat it is a bible, or you can treat it as a joke book. In some ways it is like a sculpture in that you can view it from many angles. I'm making it sound more confusing than it actually is, when it's actually very simple. It's definitely more of a novel than an anthology, at least in my head.
So what genre would you class Hole Punch as?
I'd say it's dystopia fiction. Even when dealing with modern times there is a dystopic bent to it. For instance the school system is dystopic. In its future settings it's plainly dystopic, as it involves mutants in laboratories, or colonial invasions. I make it sound very serious but there's a lot of laughs in there.
One of the repeat "motifs" in the book is of creatures or people that are ostracised. Is this based on personal experience?
On some level there is more sympathy towards these kinds of characters, but this is only natural. We've all had times when we've been helpless against forces that are larger than ourselves. I've tried not to have any particular bias against what I've satirised. It will attack religion on one page, and then the next page attack the scientific process. I've very rarely taken any moral high ground over anyone or anything, unless it is for comedy effect.
The illustrations in the book are quite abstract. At what point did you decide to illustrate Hole Punch?
I was planning to illustrate it early on. I wanted the illustrations to be abstract and to provide a challenge for the viewer. They ask the viewer to pick out different objects, people, places or entities that appear in the book.
Finally, do you see the title as a cheeky pun or more of a threat of something more sinister?
The title has various meanings. It's affectionate towards office stationary and the act of binding paper. It's also symbolic of an attack against something untouchable, like a void or an idea. You really need to read it to get a full sense of what the title means.
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