Another flash fiction
worldbuilding challenge from reddit.
How do people in your world learn about current events? Are there town criers, griots, Twitter? How easy is it to spread information and what effect has this had on your world?
Next week’s challenge is “The News” (courtesy /u/Conpermiso). No Huey Lewis jokes, please.
UPDATE! I WON!
“Tell me whether these opinions are banned, Lovell,” Gustave Peterson asked, putting three sheets of neatly written manuscript down on the censor’s desk at the Brescester Gazette.
Lovell Wilson made a face. “Whose is this?”
“A man I met at a writers’ association reception,” the eminent journalist said. “Magnus Edison. Currently writes for Pears.”
“A hack novelist then. Writing for the kiosk novelettes.”
“Nothing illegal in that,” Peterson teased. The censor’s oily scalp and pince-nez spectacles came right out of the nightmares of most journalists, a crabby little man sent from the Service to harry them out of unfortunate persuasions. “Some people I know call us the nobs’ dish-rag.”
Wilson grimaced. “Your friends would be inclined to scepticism of more than just our paper. I had that Hugo Montgomery back at the Bureau demanding to know why I allowed you to print the exposé on the militia. I simply pointed out to the good captain the Empire wasn’t served by incompetence in its gendarmes.”
That article had brought the policing of the whole city of Ludlin under scrutiny for the first time at least since the war. It hadn’t just been him that had thrown light on the manner in which the General Strike had been handled, but it felt like journalism had finally had the power to change things. Montgomery had weaselled out of direct censure, but that just meant the Ministry of Justice had answered for their treatment of internee workers and had even been forced to release some.
He watched as the censor skimmed the document. Wilson was a fast reader; some said magically fast, to process so many articles in a day and still know their contents down to the last letter. “What do you think?”
“The annexation of the Littoral States has not really been critiqued from the humanitarian point-of-view,” Wilson answered. “I’d think it was permitted to question whether the economics are sound – in such a way as to encourage adjustments. But to strike a pose on this subject in this manner requires a slightly defter touch than this man Edison has. He rants and raves and encourages resistance. You might be able to write a piece that sets out the case for a gentle hand on the native populations, but not one which goes beyond accepting that it’s in their states’ best interests to become part of the Empire.”
Peterson smiled. “Then I’ll work from his manuscript…”
“I can’t have that,” Wilson replied. “You can work from your memories of it.” He whisked the papers away and locked them in his desk drawer.
‘Allowed by Censor, 7 November 1904’. Texture: ‘Ancient’ by Duncan Johnston, nacnud, flickr
“…and that is how the article left my possession,” Peterson answered the barrister from the witness box, looking at the nervous young man and his gallows-faced client in the dock. “I cannot see that a censor would have passed Edison’s work to the banned journals, so I would have to conclude that he himself held another copy and submitted the texts to them when he was rebuffed.”