Rachel Cooper is another of our Nova Scotian writers and writes a story of hope and futility. Website: http://www.inotherwords.biz
CA: “Everybody Wins” is one of those stories I tend to love and hate. Can you speak to the hope and futility in this piece?
“Everybody Wins” didn’t start out to be about hope and futility. It arose from a vivid dream image of a floating sphere and grew into a “what if?” exploration. Or maybe, a “what the heck might that be?” exploration. It developed into an event that might lead to the scenario in Alan Weisman’s The World Without Us, a book whose main idea—world without humans—resonated with me. When I see what humans are doing to the natural world, I feel close to despair, even though countless good people work to protect it. Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is an influence, too, of course, with the world ending for a random and banal reason.
We are creatures of hope and futility, following our aspirations—some worthy, some not—and amusing ourselves to death, as Neil Postman put it in his 1985 book. Some of us are inspiring and generous and loving, others are toxic and nasty. Most of us are decent people trying to do the best we can, but we blunder around in the dark.
I suppose the answer to your question is that I myself live in a state of hope but know that we all die sooner or later; and when we do, the things we cared about will be scattered to the winds (or show up on eBay). I also think that animals are closer to humans than we’ve given them credit for—some species display what we would call culture—and the thought of a non-human species flourishing and taking our place as dominant species is an idea I find interesting rather than scary.
CA: Your story has a heavy dose of irony in it, and plays on our current culture of win win win and the numerous lottos and casinos that abound. Do you think humans will always succumb to such greed and need?
They do say (well, Horace Walpole said) that the world is a comedy to those who think and a tragedy to those who feel…. Many of us have lost—or given away—our capacity for deep thought, an apparent trend fueled by the staggering array of technological distractions in our daily lives. We’re drawn to shiny things. Many people have no interest in gambling and lotteries, though, which is why the story’s game includes some prizes that benefit other people.
CA: On an average day, do you see humanity as something with a hopeful or doomed nature?
Are those our only two options? I’m neither a dualist nor a black-and-white thinker, which means most of the time I’m fairly confused. If dithering were an Olympic sport, I’d be wearing gold. My personal belief is that humanity will survive. My personal hope is that some natural correction will result in our being much smaller in number. We’re too great a strain on the planet; we’re pooping all over our nest.
CA: Do your themes tend to reflect darker or lighter notes over all?
This is the darkest piece I’ve written, although death lurks nearby in several of my stories. Writing comedy is the most fun, though. I’ve had two short plays produced; hearing the audience laugh was magic.
CA: What other projects do you have on the go, and will we ever find out where the mysterious artifacts came from in “Everybody Wins”?
Another short play, a fantasy comedy, is finished and submitted, and I’m working on a lighter fantasy story with comic elements. Until I’d written “Everybody Wins,” I hadn’t written any fantasy, but I’m finding it fun to play with. Alas, I have no idea where the mysterious artifacts came from. Cleveland, maybe.
Rachel Cooper is a freelance writer and editor in the Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia. Besides writing for various organizations, she has published articles on science, people and nature. Born in Winnipeg, she grew up in Ontario and has lived in Scotland, France and England.