Rod Rapid and His Electric Chair (Short Story by John Barnes) EPUB
A short satirical comedy about the end of the world, the difficulty of ever really knowing what is going on in someone's head, and what it's like to really love reading junk.
Rod Rapid and His Electric Chair is a short story of about 9200 words, not much more than an hour's reading. It's a funny story about global catastrophe, a slightly sad story about being careful what you really wish for, and sort of a psychological detective story (DON'T PEEK AT THE END). One of the last surviving neuroscientists and an old cop, on an Earth that is rapidly becoming uninhabitable, must try to figure out why a quiet, seemingly harmless genius would purposely kill almost all the life on Earth -- and he himself doesn't know. The clues lie in what might be the worst boys' adventure books ever written.
Though the story is fairly far out, the tech is fairly real, and some of the ideas in the story have actually been discussed as possible methods for carbon sequestration (i.e. taking the carbon that causes climate change back out of the atmosphere). Be careful, again, what you wish for.
But wishing for 99 cents worth of entertainment is surely all right!
Originally published in HelixSF in 2006.