What inspired this story?
About a year ago I was having lunch with a friend and journalist who mentioned that trucking was one of the largest employers of non-college-educated white men in America. A little while later, he made a completely unrelated comment about the best cures for terrorism being employment and purpose, while its most effective instigators are idleness and injustice. About half of “The Gamecocks” came together walking away from that lunch.
The other half was borrowed and embellished from stories I heard from an uncle of mine in North Carolina who drove long-haul trucks for a couple years and is one the most talented storytellers I’ve ever known. A lot of the world, tone, and details came from my Uncle Dave.
I like the dynamic between Leslie-Anne and Hardy. They feel like the average worker dealing with a layoff or a sudden loss of work, yet they’re also capable of fighting a system that they deem to be unfair and unjust, which makes what happens to them all the more tragic. Is there a chance of more stories in this world?
I generally love the idea of Southern and Appalachian science fiction. There’s a lot of grist in imagining futures and alternate histories for places so concerned with tradition, with so much forensic evidence of the past. Maybe there’s more to tell there.
Automation is one of the key themes here. Do you think there’s a time and place to implement automation in the workforce? You’ve convinced me that automated semi-trucks aren’t going to go over well if brought to reality, at least at the outset.
I can’t think of a time humans figured out a technology that worked and set it aside without use. But the effects of automation are anybody’s guess. I assume automation generally devalues a worker’s skills, and increases profits for the few at the top. The invention of the cotton gin reduced one kind of human labor, but created an overwhelming demand for another, slave labor fueling the suddenly increased profits of the plantation owners. It might be that automation tends to increase inequality.
What’s next for you? Is there a project of yours that you’d like to talk about?
I’ve been seduced by the vague and unreliable promises of Hollywood, so there are all sorts of projects I would love to talk about, but none you could depend on.
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