The Killing Jar

While my original plan was to point anyone reading to¬†one of Laurie Penny’s short stories, first off I’m going to share one of her articles: Life-Hacks of the Poor and Aimless. If you’re not familiar with Laurie Penny’s non-fiction, she’s been writing about social and political issues, feminism, and various ways these areas intersect for a few years now. If you’ve read anything of hers before, it was probably some of her excellent coverage of the Occupy movement.

It only makes sense that a writer so cognizant of socio-political issues would write science-fiction that is layered, unique and equal parts scathing and accurate in its portrayal of the absurdities embedded in modern society. The Killing Jar is one of those stories that when I read it I wished I’d written it – serial killings as government subsidised art, in a Britain that feels not-too-far from today’s. It reads like one of the better episodes of Black Mirror, but without needing to rely on a tech angle. It also represents a future that could be the logical conclusion to society’s obsession with true crime.


I feel a bit sorry for Tony. It’s not that he’s not a good serial killer, it’s just that for various reasons things haven’t worked out for him, and he hasn’t achieved the sort of notoriety that someone with his skill set really deserves.

For instance: The last troubled, hard-drinking detective with unorthodox methods who Tony managed to hook into a daring cat-and-mouse game ended up in rehab for alcohol abuse, thus wasting months of painstaking antagonism. He’s alright now, but part of his recovery program apparently involves no longer doing active police work, which pisses Tony off no end after the amount of time he put into the creepy post-crime scene flirtation they had going on.

The new inspector on the case just doesn’t have the same sparkle. Sure, he breaks the rules now and then, but his colleagues generally like him and he’s Tony says he doesn’t have enough personality disorders to be interesting.

Personally, I think that’s a bit rich coming from Tony.

It’s not that Tony is boring, precisely. And it’s not that he doesn’t have any other interests, or things that he cares about with the sort of sick fervor you’d expect from people in his line of work. It’s just that he cares about being a famous serial killer slightly more than anything else.

Read the whole story at Terraform.