by Ray N. Franklin
Spoiler Alert: this article is about “Trending, A Man Story” the SF short story. It reveals important details about the original. If you haven’t read the story, click here to read it now.
Rating: PG13 Adult Themes
Like most of my story ideas, the concept behind “Trending, A Man Story” just popped into my head. For all my ideas the timing is random and I can identify no clear triggers. They just happen.
Some years ago I recall hearing someone on NPR mention that during foreplay and sex, men frequently relive the experience of breastfeeding, while women seldom have that opportunity. Obviously, the speaker was talking about heterosexual relationships. That’s a powerful concept, one that taps into a nearly universal beginning-of-life experience. I’m not surprised it stuck in my head and sprouted years later. The sprout matured when fertilized with news reports of a shortage of breast milk at milk banks. Finally, it blossomed into “Trending, A Man Story” when my wacky brain tossed in the perennial internet self-help topic of man-boobs.
Once I settled on the concept, the trick was to setup a reason for all males to grow functioning mammary glands. After choosing a gene drive released into the wild, I was free to unleash the resulting insanity.
Because man-boob self-help is such an enduring topic on the web, I decided to make the principal character into an internet marketer. Some of the first readers over at Critters Writers Workshop thought that Charlie was a spammer and found it out of character that he could actually be a responsible publisher who distributes reassuring and useful information to subscribers. I’ll simply note that all spammers are internet marketers, but few internet marketers are spammers.
Beyond the justification for worldwide man-boobs, I just went with the logical consequences of the idea. I like the notion of men being able to participate very directly in nurturing infants; holding a bottle is nothing like genuine nursing. If anyone felt offended by the scene of teen boys turning working breasts into a squirt-gun fight, I’m sorry. I thought it was funny.
That’s all I have. My work on this story is finished. Now it’s your turn to analyze and interpret. Have fun.