“Breaking News!” (short story) by Romeu Martins
English Publication History: Solarpunk (World Weaver Press, 2018)
Original: Portuguese (E Atenção: Notícia urgente!), 2012
Translated by Fábio Fernandes, 2018
Synopsis: An on-site reporter relays her experience while at a remote laboratory in Brazil where demonstrators from the Rural Workers Movement are set to storm the compound where they believe the multinational corporate not only researches GMO foods, but also more discreet research for military groups. As they breach the walls and begin their destruction, a company representative telephones in to the radio show that it broadcasting the scene to add his comments that clear the company of any wrongdoing and damn the protesters for their extreme neoluddite behavior. As the scientists rattles on, the scene at the laboratory takes a sudden turn as the on-site reporter conveys the situation where the protesters, now inside and wreaking havoc, begin to turn on each other, even mother on children, yet don’t their injuries stop them for pursuing the fight; they continue their blood lust rampage on each other until the facility explodes… whereby the scene cuts to the scientist happily discussing the event with the same multinational corporation.
Analysis: Top five people I don’t trust:
- My Boss
- PR Representatives
When someone is out to convince me of one thing where the ultimate benefit lies with who is doing the convincing, I go on full alert:
- analyzing rhetoric (i.e. what words are repeated);
- reading body language (i.e. body proximity);
- reading facial expressions (i.e. the eight parts of a smile);
- speculating who, what, when, where, why, how (i.e. why me, here, now);
- digging for inferences (i.e. why convince me here and now);
- and processing language structures (i.e. direct and informal or overly formal approach).
All in all, you have a damn fat chance of convincing me of anything if I’m not already sold on it. I’ll analyze my own benefit six ways from Sunday, thank you very much.
In “Breaking News!”, the scientists is also the PR Rep as he defends the corporation he works for against rumors of their research, then he attacks the protesters/rioters with labels and rhetoric. The more he speaks, the less we can believe, as if it was rehearsed.
Review: The sixteen-page story is divided into nine pages of radio broadcast between the radio news anchor, the on-site reporter, and the call-in scientist. It provides a fast-paced start to the story where the reader can easily build the story in their head with the use of present continuous tense–the feel of action now. The remaining seven pages are dedicated to dialogue, where the behind-the-scenes conversation about the previous scene unfolds in present simple tense—another method of conveying immediacy and action. It seems to gain momentum in order to reach a twist, but the story ends blindly, making the reader draw inferences about what had just been written; thus, a satisfactory story in many regards.