“Thoughts and Prayers”

Out today in The Arcanist: my flash fiction story about the gamification of tragedy, “Thoughts and Prayers”.

I first wrote this in November 2015, after a mass shooting (I think), when I saw the outpouring of “support” on social media — especially from the government, who did absolutely nothing, and continues to do absolutely nothing… except send thoughts and prayers. At this point the phrase has become rote, and while I know there are people out there who are genuine, it’s really more of a “do it on social media so everyone knows how much you ‘care'” thing. I’m a cynic, yes, but there’s a reason for that.

The whole mess has only gotten worse since 2015, as the disasters somehow get worse and the platitudes somehow get emptier. And yet the first dozen publications I submitted this story to passed on it. One said “not speculative enough” (which, okay, the speculative element is slight), another called it “too message-y”, and another said I didn’t push the concept far enough. But I was telling the story the way I wanted to tell it, and The Arcanist was my lucky 13.

Here’s hoping you enjoy the story, and that if it comes true, you find a way not to participate. But if you’re forced to… well… my thoughts and prayers go out to you.

(And yes, I know there was an amazing episode of BoJack Horseman that covered this same topic. I highly recommend it.)

About Josh Roseman

Josh Roseman (not the trombonist; the other one) has been published in -- among others -- Asimov's, Escape Pod, and Evil Girlfriend Media. He's published two short-story collections, THE CLOCKWORK RUSSIAN and BOSS FIGHT, as well as a novel, AFTER THE APOCALYPSE. When not writing, he mostly complains that he's not writing. Find him online at roseplusman.com, or on Twitter @listener42.
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