J.W. Wood’s ‘Goznym: Leyla’ in Writers Co-op Production’s The Rabbit Hole Weird Stories Destination:Journey Anthology

I asked fellow The Rabbit Hole Weird Stories Destination:Journey anthology contributors to share some things about themselves prior to publication and those generous enough to do so will be appearing here for the next week or so.

Each entry gives a taste of their contribution, a little about them, how to contact them, how their story came about, and definitely a link to The Rabbit Hole Weird Stories Destination:Journey (which you should purchase because it would make each and every one of us happy.
you do want to make us happy, don’t you?
i mean, considering what we wrote, you want us to know you’re a good person, right?).

Let’s start with an introduction to the anthology as a whole:

“Life is a journey, not a destination.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Emerson’s point has been echoed by many, but in the Land of the Weird the question arises, “A journey to what destination?” At the same time, you might ask, “Is the journey therefore the destination?” The journey may well be an individual’s destination, because it will define them physically, emotionally, and spiritually. And in the Land of the Weird, that journey can take twists and turns that amuse, sadden, or horrify.
This trip into the Land of the Weird offers you 39 unique trails to follow, assisted by 35 different guides, each leading you down their own singular paths, manifesting their own view of journey as destination, some laughing, some weeping, and some, eyes wide with fear, shaking as they point out the spectral footpath for you to follow on your way down The Rabbit Hole.

A Writers Co-op Production
Stories by: Chere Taylor, Brian R. Quinn, Arthur M. Doweyko, Donna J. W. Munro, Tom Howard, Kayla Whittle, Leslie Muzingo, Pete Barnstrom, Emmie Christie, Thomas Nicholson, GD Deckard, Richard DeRobertis, M.C. Schmidt, James Dorr, Rosalind Goldsmith, Margaret Karmazin, J.W.Wood, James Rumpel, Bill McCormick, v.f. thompson, Fran Tabor, David K. Slay, Joseph Carrabis, Jane Frankel, Alice Baburek, Susan R. Morritt, Bobby Rollins, Lee Clark Zumpe, Denice Penrose, Stephen McQuiggan, H. Donovan Lyón, Anna Ross, Michael Pudney, Beth Gaydon, and Tom Wolosz.

James’ contribution is Goznym: Leyla. Here’s the opening:

This thing came from Russia, like Tetris, vodka and pessimistic humour. One day nothing – the next, it’s all over chatrooms, the streets, the clubs. They say you hit the singularity when you’re on it: full interface between man and machine.
It’s a drug, right? And what a drug, what a drug. Here’s what you do. Drink a ton of water, eat a big meal. Lock the front door, then pop the pill. You’ll need a headset with biometric sensors on your temples and forehead. Get one from a military hardware site. Or get it from your Uncle – I don’t care. Once you drop, you got five minutes til you come up. While you’re waiting, hit the DarkNet. OnionWare is what you want. Then search for “Goznym: Leyla” and download.

How the story came about:
I find advances in Artificial Intelligence, transhumanism and bio-technology to be by some distance the most frightening development of the past century. “Goznym: Leyla” came about as a mash-up of these concerns, some research I’d been doing into the DarkNet for another project, and other reasons that came to me — to borrow Rushdie’s phrase — “via a process too complicated to explain”.
About J.W. Wood:
J.W. Wood is a dual citizen of the UK and Canada who lives in rural Scotland, having homesteaded in rural Canada for the past decade. His work has appeared in Carve, Black Cat Mystery Magazine, Space Squid and many other titles. He is the author of six books of poetry, a novel and two works of short fiction, the most recent of which are forthcoming in the US and UK by the end of 2024. You can find him on Twitter and via his website.

See all The Rabbit Hole Weird Stories Destination:Journey stories here.