Please welcome my guest, Michael D. Smith
Why I Wrote CommWealth, by Michael D. Smith
CommWealth sprang from a long, richly detailed dream I had in which the central “I” demonstrates his easy adaptation to a property-less society by demanding electronic gadgets, cars, motorcycles, in fact anything he desires, then hoarding it all in a mansion he’s similarly procured. He takes the basic premise of this society, the guilt-ridden, involuntary sharing of everything, to its extreme when he asserts the right to claim a former girlfriend as his property. The dream narrator was oddly both me, yet not me; somehow I had a certain psychological distance from the character who became CommWealth’s arrogant, pathetic anti-hero Allan Larsen.
The dream was so clear that the resulting plot for CommWealth flowed easily, allowing for both farce and for serous reflection on our innate emotional and legal attachment to the tens of thousands of objects we own. I even researched some books on property rights just to feel more familiar with the subject, though I can’t say they had much effect on the plot, which seemed pre-written from the dream.
Another aspect of the novel I wanted to explore, based on my amateur acting experience in college, was its theatrical setting. The main characters in the novel form an acting troupe called Forensic Squad which eventually becomes the focal point of a suicidal revolution against CommWealth, the name of the governmental sharing system. The six major characters act their parts in the novel like an ensemble cast in a movie, where accomplished actors divide the plot between them and no one actor has the lead role. It was satisfying to shift from one character to the next, giving them equal emphasis and letting each’s motivations unfold on stage.
About the Author:
Michael D. Smith was raised in the Northeast and the Chicago area, before moving to Texas to attend Rice University, where he began developing as a writer and visual artist. In addition to exhibiting and selling paintings and drawings, he’s completed fifteen novels.
Smith’s writing in both mainstream and science fiction genres uses humor to investigate psychological themes. On his blog, he explores art and writing processes, and his web site contains further examples of his writing and art. He is currently Technology Librarian for McKinney Public Library in McKinney, Texas.
CommWealth is his first novel published by Class Act Books.
find out more about Michael at:
Website: , www.sortmind.com,
Blog: www. http://blog.sortmind.com/wordpress/
The CommWealth system, has created a society in which there is no legal claim to any kind of private property. Any object from your house to the clothes you’re wearing can be demanded by anyone, to be enjoyed for thirty days before someone else can request it. As actors in the Forensic Squad theatrical troupe attempt to adapt to this chaos, their breaking of the Four Rules sustaining the system, as several members navigate betrayals, double agents, and murder to find themselves leading a suicidal revolution.
Rule One – You are free to enjoy the chosen object for thirty days. During this period no other person may request it.
Rule Two – The requestor is untouchable for thirty days by the person asked. Attempts at retaliation, such as demanding unusually large quantities from the original requestor after the thirty-day period, carry stiff penalties.
Rule Three – Once you ask somebody for something, you can never ask him or her for anything else again.
Rule Four – You can never ask for the same thing back from the person who got it from you, not even after his or her thirty days of enjoyment.
Allan shivered at the reflection of his black overcoat and his striding legs on the wet sidewalk. Up ahead someone with a DreamPiston Electronics bag opened a shiny red Porsche glistening with thousands of water beads.
“Okay,” Allan said, “I’ll take your car here.”
The mustached little twerp looked up. “Ahhh, crap…”
“C’mon, don’t give me any trouble. Gimme the key.”
“Look, it’s raining. And I just got these MP3 players and the new Fappy tablet—”
“Not my problem. Fork the damn key over.”
“Look, my umbrella’s in the car—can I just get my umbrella so my stuff—”
“Forget it. The umbrella’s part of the car as far as I’m concerned. Anything in the car. Besides, I just lost my umbrella a couple blocks back. I’m soaked.”
“C’mon, I just got this car the other day!”
“Don’t hand me that. The sticker on the plate says you got it a month and a half ago. You’re overdue, buddy. Now hand me the key.”
“Got trouble there?” A bright blue City of Linstar police car idled in the rain. “Got a Hoarder there?” a huge officer grinned.
“Uh, no… not at all…” said the twerp. “I just—I just can’t find the key—”
“Yeah, right—you just unlocked the damn car with it,” Allan said, turning to the policeman. “He is giving me a lot of crap about it.”
“C’mon, sir, you know better than that.” The officer’s name tag read BARCLAY.
“Dammit!” the twerp snarled. He separated the Porsche key off his key ring, thrust it at Allan, then spun around and fastened on a man coming down the sidewalk. “Give me that umbrella! Right now!”
“Goddammit…” the man grunted, surrendering his umbrella to the twerp, who grabbed it and hoisted it above his DreamPiston bag.
“We really got the Christmas spirit here, don’t we?” Barclay said.
“Really,” Allan said. “Some people…” He examined the Porsche key in the rain. “Thanks for your help, officer.”
“Oh, I’m sure it wasn’t really necessary. People are basically good, you know. Give ’em time to adjust and all, that’s what I say.”
The twerp leapt into traffic with his new umbrella and his bag, waving his free arm. A little green car skidded to a halt. The twerp ran to the window and pounded on it. “Give me this car! Right now! Damn you!”
“Jesus…” Allan said. “What a bastard!”
Barclay was out of his patrol car in a second, hand on his hand on his holster. “Sir, that’s not the right way to go about it. We need to be respectful. That’s the CommWealth way.”
CommWealth is available at: