“Escape” (short story) by Gabriel Cantareira
English Publication History: Solarpunk (World Weaver Press, 2018)
Original: Portuguese (Fuga), 2012
Translated by Fábio Fernandes, 2018
Synopsis: Mariana, the powerful and beautiful, tarnishes her own reputation by a willful act of theft, one which aligns to her sense of humanity. Through glass corridors, she cradles the information stored on a card that he had just stolen from the Advent Corporation; she’s also fleeing from the same place, card in pocket and sweat on brow. Trying to lose herself in the sea of people within the city and subway, Mariana’s escape plot is foiled as they give chase, which she dodges again and again through the city’s endless crevices. Outsiders would consider that a corporation that promotes green technology would have people’s interest at heart aside from their interest in profit, but Advent Corporation has another interest in mind. In order to thwart the scheme, Mariana is willing to put her life at stake.
Analysis: Call me cynical, but if you recall the people I distrust from my analysis of Romeu Martins’ short story “Breaking News!“, three of them involve business: sales, marketing, and public relations. Business exists in order to make money, make profit, make the owner(s) more wealthy and/or powerful; it shouldn’t be thought for a second, oh dear idealists, that most business do what they do for others’ benefit. Apple made the iPhone X so they could improve the experience of your watching butts on Instagram? Pizza Hut offers promotions so that you can save a dollar to feed your friends with nutritious wonder? Priceline has fantastic deals on flights so that you can travel more freely for cheaper? All answers point to no: It’s a clever ploy to make someone else money.
Car companies, nowadays, are churning out electric and hybrid vehicles, which is great for the environment in many ways, but it also makes a pretty dollar (now about 2% of all vehicle purchases and rapidly climbing). Let’s not pretend that car manufacturers are acting altruistically in terms of green technology. Whatever is legal (even quasi-legal) and profitable, a company somewhere is already churning money out of it. In the near future–as in “Escape” when that time is 2031–green technologies will be pushed more so to the forefront of our lives to the point that they may even begin to dominate our lives with a ubiquitous presence. The flourishing of these technologies is great for the environment, but we must not let the manufacturers of those same technologies to dominate us in return. Green: yes; servile: no.
Review: This is a relatively simple story of corporate theft and corporate greed with a green twist. The anti-corporate message is laid out clearly in which the reader can easily relate to the protagonist. In the collection, the story provides a good transition in writing styles from “Once Upon a Time in a World” to “Gary Johnson”.