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8 Helen Phillips quotes which are straight out of Black Mirror

Posted 12th Aug 2017

Some Possible Solutions, Helen Phillips’ sumptuously surreal and witty short story collection, is out now. If you’re a fan of subversive, dystopian shows such as Black Mirror, you’ll love these high-tech, bewitching tales of a strange world not too far from our own.

We’ve put together 10 moments from Some Possible Solutions which could be taken right out of an episode of Black Mirror…

1. From The Joined
‘The professor, gesturing at an oversimplified graphic consisting of two globes connected by many multicolored lines, explains that if the theories and equations resulting from the conference are correct, every single person on Earth has a corresponding being on the new planet to whom s/he can be joined, thus returning to the original hermaphroditic state and achieving perfect happiness.’

2. From Some Possible Solutions
‘But that’s not the only thing I’m talking about. Also I’m talking about his eyes. Twin mirrors reflecting me back at myself. What I’ve found extra beautiful these past months is when I can see myself in his eyes and then he blinks his lash-less lids (every four seconds, programmed for verisimilitude) and I can’t see myself and then he opens his eyes and I can see myself again.’

3. From Children
‘Thomas doesn’t believe, and I don’t blame him. It isn’t easy to believe that when I was sewing those clothes there was something else guiding my fingers, something outside of me, something green and glowing.’

4. From The Joined
‘We begin to refer to these creatures as the Joined. The new ones appear on TV. Whenever a word like “loneliness” or “dissatisfaction” or “boredom” comes up, they offer only kind, puzzled smiles.’

5. From Contamination Generation
‘By Saturday afternoon, Mara Stanhope is stretched out in her lounge chair beneath an umbrella. She looks like a woman at a spa, not a woman who gave birth less than twenty-four hours ago. That smell of newly cut grass. She’s holding a tall glass con- taining a bloodred drink, sipping the liquid through a long straw.’

6. From Children
‘We’ve been through this a million times. He refuses to admit what they are. Though they never bleed, not even when they get their vaccination shots or skin their knees. A puncture dot, a raw spot, but never a drop of blood. “Why do they never bleed?”’

7. From The Beekeeper
‘People and things are disappearing in the city. These people are girls between the ages of eleven and seventeen who have not yet been stiffened by life in skyscrapers, who have not yet donned the hood and trousers, who, in a different era, would have been milkmaids, weavers, beekeepers. These things are objects the aforementioned girls have used. A brush, for instance, containing loose strands of hair. Bedsheets slept between, bath towels wrapped around, slippers slid into.’

8. From Children
‘I’ll never know what happened to the other pair of twins I carried for nine months, whether the aliens infected them with their alien souls, or whether they replaced them altogether, or whatever.’

Want more? Read one of Helen’s short stories The Knowers, now >