The Rabbit Hole

Your story is easily the best in the book! It was especially fun for me because my husband’s from Kingston and I knew the places in it.

Ann Ewan, author of Firedrake and Brondings’ Honou

This story was written for the compilation, Nineteen Tales of COVID-19, but it draws on far older sources.

It takes place in the story world of the Devilbunnies, a shared fiction I discovered years ago on Usenet. In this fictional universe, rabbits are dangerous, intelligent, and evil, while remaining as cute as they can be. Everything follows from that.

See: Evil rabbits? Really?

I wanted to explore a number of things in this story, such as:

  • The experience of someone who has been brainwashed so hard that their cerebral cortex is leaking out their ears;
  • The difference between what abusive rulers tell their underlings and what they believe themselves;
  • The unhealthy way that underlings must relate to such leaders;
  • The poisonous effects of paranoia and other such thinking;
  • The ways that supremacism and other prejudices weaken and constrain even their believers…

In a story this short, I couldn’t even begin to scratch the surface. But these days, it seems that the daily news is rubbing our noses in these issues.

Around the world, populist demagogues whip up paranoia against ‘the Other’, whichever Other may conveniently be at hand: an ethnic group, a technology, anything. All it needs to be is different, and frameable as threatening.

If you can link the Other to fear and suspicion, harnessing the negative emotions, you can bypass rational judgment. And that starts off by causing people to make bad decisions and bad public policy. And it often ends up with mobs storming parliament buildings or with bodies in the streets. We have seen this movie before; it has played many times throughout history, and it seldom ends well.

I am hoping that we can step back, look past our fears, and make decisions that make the world a better place.