Matt Hornsby’s story “A Final Resting Place” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 20 September 2019.
This story came together from a couple of different ideas I had. I remember reading ‘The World Without Us’ by Alan Weisman around the time of a train journey I took across Hungary and Romania, and looking out the window at the landscape – already much wilder than anything in the UK – and imagining it returned to nature completely in the absence of humans, a kind of European Serengeti. Would we recognise such a place, or would it be completely alien? At the same time I was thinking a lot about a central question in environmental ethics, about the value of the living world in the absence of intelligent beings like us to perceive it. That was a couple of years ago, and with the growing volume of concern about environmental breakdown, it feels more relevant. Which is lucky for me, if not for anyone else!
I also wanted to create a distinctive voice for the main character – Salzmann – that was almost uncomfortably analytical, to the extent that mundane observations of the natural world can feel eerie and disturbing. I think some of Jeff Vandermeer’s protagonists were a strong model for this, in the Southern Reach trilogy and ‘Borne’. I’m not sure I pulled it off, but that’s what I was going for.
Everything else just sort of filtered in from other influences as I was writing it. In any case, I hope it’s a good read!
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