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MAD Men

Corey Sutch currently lives in London, and works for a social mobility charity. To avoid the metropolitan buzz, in his spare time, he enjoys sitting at his desk and dreaming up new scenarios for future writing projects, with an ever-growing list of "to-do"s outstripping those "in progress." When not contemplating the (usually bleak-themed) future, he enjoys traveling around Europe, food, and wine. His writing has appeared in gaming publications, such as PSM3 and Metro, along with MTV blogs, but science fiction remains his favorite domain. Similarly nuclear in theme, he is the author of the short novel All The World's War.
"Gosh, well this is awkward."
Alan slowly moved his index finger away from the red button below him, his forehead glistening slightly from a cool sweat. The button of the NanoNuke box gleamed in the sunlight, as smooth and shiny as candy, it was simply begging to be pushed. He resisted this time. His neighbor tentatively did the same, not without squinting to make sure Alan had already surrendered. Their game of chicken ended in forfeit, for now at least.
"Okay, you got me!" Jim shouted over. "You always know I wouldn't really do it, you old fool!"
Alan laughed back, the tone transformed at once from cool hostility to one wholly more friendly. It was now most neighborly.
"I'll tell you Jim, I really thought you were going to this time, I really did!"
"I thought I might too! Just at the end there, I thought you would press it before I was ready.... I let you have it, really! Oh the guys will just love this one! I'll be seeing you at the bar later, yeah?"
"You know it!"
Jerry watched the whole thing below from the pavement in front of the two houses, staring up in confused wonder, his eyes wide and his mouth ajar. All that ran through his mind was here are two adults who are more than willing to blow each other off the face of the Earth, and in a very short space of time, turn each others homes and families into nicely formed craters and ash, out of place in every locale, save for a moon. They didn't actually press the button this time, though. They never did. At least, not yet anyway.
Small mushroom clouds were not a particularly uncommon sight around the increasingly smaller suburban village of Opahi, and special rules permitted the residents to always have one NanoNuke in their possession, for the sake of protection of course. With mutually assured destruction, having a personal atomic weapon kept things a little bit more peaceful somehow, and just a little bit calmer as well. Disputes actually resolved themselves very quickly. Of course, if they didn't, one of the parties in the said dispute wasn't exactly around anymore to continue it.
Yes, the laws have been relaxed a bit since back in the day when only countries could do this sort of thing, but in Opahi, it just works. Take Alan and Jim. They've been threatening each other for years. Any problems they have, be it noise or simply just being in a bad mood and wanting to vent, the bomb answers everything. Heaven sent, really. Whenever a problem presents itself, they both march upstairs and go over their little routine before the situation diffuses. There was one amusing time, just after they both moved in to freshly built houses, when they really did both press their buttons, but both of the launchers just so happened to fail. Oh, that was a story for the ages! Now, they always threaten, but they both know they won't really fire it. Probably.
It's a bit like the threat of casting a dueling gauntlet, but with just a little more force. And the peace! They tell us NanoNukes were restricted decades ago, and I dread to think what it was like back then.
It must have been absolute chaos.
The End
This story was first published on Tuesday, September 19th, 2017


Few other cultural productions had as much impact on me as the fantastic television series Black Mirror, ever since it was a fairly low-budget show on British television, and one which we even covered in our university courses when I was a student. The idea of using the future and science fiction to link to the present, and to raise flaws or quirks of our thinking in a different scenario provides a rich opportunity for presenting events to be considered in new ways and provides us with a great critical-thinking tool to reevaluate our positions more free from bias. "MAD Men" is inspired by this Black Mirror thinking, going beyond any discussions of arms that exist today, to fantastical portable nuclear weapons which are a long way off. It is not intended to be overtly polemical, but to make us consider what the end point is when potentially unlimited power is legal until otherwise legislated against. We may have different takes on the legalization of arms today, but in this new NanoNuke future, would those positions we hold alter or remain fundamentally the same?

- Corey Ethan Sutch

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