The writer on how we become our brothers’ keepers when our ordinary divides and patterns are shattered.
Edgar Allen Poe wrote “The Masque of the Red Death” in 1842. It’s about a plutocrat who throws a masked ball in his walled abbey during a plague with the intention of cheating death.
My novella “The Masque of the Red Death” is a tribute to Poe; it’s from my book Radicalized. It’s the story of a plute who brings his pals to his luxury bunker during civlizational collapse in the expectation of emerging once others have rebuilt.
Naturally, they assume that when they do emerge, once their social inferiors have rebooted civilization, that their incredible finance-brains, their assault rifles, and their USBs full of BtC will allow them to command a harem and live a perpetual Frazetta-painting future.
And naturally – for anyone who’s read Poe – it doesn’t work out for them. They discover that humanity has a shared microbial destiny and that you can’t shoot germs. That every catastrophe must be answered with solidarity, not selfishness, if it is to be survived.
Like my story When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth, the Masque of the Red Death has been on a lot of people’s minds lately, especially since this Guardian story of plutes fleeing to their New Zealand luxury bunkers was published. Hundreds of you have sent me this.
I got the message. Yesterday, I asked my agent to see if Macmillan Audio would let me publish the audiobook of my Masque of the Red Death for free. They said yes, and asked me to remind you that the audiobook of Radicalized (which includes Masque) is available for your delictation.
I hope you’ll check out the whole book. Radicalized was named one of the @WSJ’s best books of 2019, and it’s a finalist for Canada Reads, the national book prize. It’s currently on every Canadian national bestseller list.
There’s one hitch, though: Audible won’t sell it to you. They don’t sell ANY of my work, because I don’t allow DRM on it, because I believe that you should not have to lock my audiobooks to Amazon’s platform in order to enjoy them.
Instead, you can buy the audio from sellers like libro.fm, Downpour.com, and Google Play. Or you can get it direct from me. No DRM, no license agreement. Just “you bought it, you own it.”
And here’s the free Macmillan Audio edition of Masque of the Red Death, read with spine-chilling menace by the incredible Stefan Rudnicki, with a special intro from me, freshly mastered by John Taylor Williams. I hope it gives you some comfort.
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