Predator and Prey Relationships

A review of Suzanne Church’s “Mod Me Down” in Elements: A Collection of Speculative Fiction (Edge, 2014).
By Derek Newman-Stille

Cover photo of Suzanne Church's "Elements" courtesy of

Cover photo of Suzanne Church’s “Elements” courtesy of

Suzanne Church’s “Mod me Down” takes readers to the limit of the human experience, exploring that critical moment when culture bleeds into instinct. In a future where an attempt to prevent global warming has initiated an ice age, the American government has become totalitarian and given people a choice: be shot or take a shot of animal DNA to become something semi-human-semi-animal.

The modifications to the human body have been forced on the populace… or at least the less wealthy members of society. The richest of the American population are able to stay human and travel further south to be saved from the coming Ice Age, but everyone else is required to undergo genetic shots to transform them into human-animal hybrids. This transformation is also tiered, with the wealthy able to become predators, while the poor have to become prey animals, primarily vermin like rats and bugs. Suzanne Church highlights the issues with wealth stratification in “Mod Me Down”, literally turning the rich into predators who prey on and consume the poor much as the current economic system treats the poor as vermin and food for the wealth-generating machine.

Yet, her story also has a very personal quality. Lucas and Mary have been lovers for some time, yet haven’t been married, not seeing the point of it. But, when they receive their genetic modification assignments, Mary is told she will be a cockroach while Lucas is told he will be a rat. They are to be separated into different colonies since rats prey on cockroaches. Church tests the limits of the human when lovers meet the predator-prey relationship and love is tested against hunger.

To find out more about Elements and other Edge books, visit their website at .

To discover more about Suzanne Church, visit her website at .


Vampiropocalyptic Cold

A review of Sandra Kasturi’s The Slowing of the World in Evolve Two: Vampire Stories of the Future Undead (Edge, 2011)

Cover photo courtesy of Nancy Kilpatrick

Cover photo courtesy of Nancy Kilpatrick

By Derek Newman-Stille

Vampires, living forever and experiencing the world through the longue duree, should be the personification of patience. Predators are known for their ability to wait for long periods of time for their prey, and, when that predator lasts for millennia, their perspective on the world would be one that appreciates small changes over a long period of time.

Sandra Kasturi’s vampires in The Slowing of the World are glacial figures: cold, slow, and deadly. She explores what it would be like to live through so much history: slowly losing the need to stick to the simple categories humanity applies to ideas of life. Her vampires slowly lose their sense of humanity, the impatience that comes with living short lives.

From this long term perspective, vampires are able to view the Earth outside of the human impatience that drives us to destroy the planet for our own convenience. They watch the overpopulation of the world, the pollution and destruction that come from the desire to have everything NOW. But vampires think in terms of millennia, able to see the impact of actions over a long period. They recognise that they need to cool down the hot passion that drives humanity toward its own self-destructiveness. They recognise that sometimes for our own good, we need to gain a new perspective and the only way to slow and cool us down is a worldwide ice age – the personification of slow, cold, isolated pondering.

The perfect story for a long winter evening, Kasturi’s narrative drives ice chips into the blood and leaves us in the state of pondering the world around us that often comes from the isolation and cold of the winter.

To read this story, check out Evolve Two: Vampire Stories of the Future Undead available from Edge: . The Ebook version of this book is only $2.99, and the collection contains a whole section on Post Apocalyptic stories. You can explore Sandra Kasturi’s website at to find out about her projects.