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Crime and Punishment


Crime and Punishment
A Speculative Fiction Anthology

By Lucas Bale, S. Elliot Brandis, J. S. Collyer, S. W. Fairbrother, Michael Patrick Hicks, G. S. Jennsen, Harry Manners, and Alex Roddie
Edited by Lucas Bale and Pinnacle Editorial

There will always be crime.

There will always be those who covet what others possess, or who are driven to acts of violence through rage or cynical design. And there will always be those who seek justice for those crimes. Yet justice is in the eye of the beholder, and rarely does it come easy.

A bounty hunter, whose own freedom depends on him finding those who must have theirs taken away, never asks why. Or what will happen to those he captures. But when he is sent back to his home planet to hunt a child and her family, he must confront the horror of his past and question whether he can ever truly be free.

A woman holds a gun to a man’s head, getting ready to pull the trigger. But her story doesn’t start there. It starts way back when she was a kid, in outback Australia. It starts when the government began to put bombs in people’s heads. When they started toying with probability-based punishment. Now, when she pulls that trigger, she doesn’t know if he’ll live or die. Or live and die.

In the near future, where the internet has evolved into the Mind, and become so complex that content is served preprocessed and digested by personal assistant AIs, independent thought is a thing of the past, a crime even. When insurgents appear, persuading people to see the truth, a police captain begins to question where her allegiance truly lies.

A young woman who has lost everything but her soul fights to reclaim her life from a violent, sadistic criminal. But when she’s given a chance for freedom, she realises escape is not enough. First, a just punishment must be exacted for crimes committed.

Eight stories that push the boundaries of what justice the future holds by some of the most exciting new speculative fiction authors writing today.


For centuries, humanity has multiplied unchecked across the planet. The Anthropocene era – the Great Acceleration – marks the present age, in which human activities have caused exponential change in almost every planetary system and environment. Our relentless consumption is fuelling one of the greatest mass extinctions of all time.

It is a crime of incalculable scale. There is no precedent for what lies ahead.

My story The Great Correction began life as a night of tall tales in a remote hut on a Scottish mountainside. While whisky flowed and the fire cracked, I chatted with strangers about the devastated and denuded landscape of the Highlands, and about how re-wilding might save our wilderness. Primordial forest once blanketed the UK; now less than 12% of the landscape is covered by trees, and the vast majority of those forests are managed by humans for commercial purposes.

There is no wilderness left in the most densely populated corners of Earth. But while big business lays waste to the world, there are those who believe in planting trees, in reintroducing native species that have vanished, in marking areas aside for wildlife to flourish. As the reality of climate change begins to bite I believe these voices standing up for wilderness will become ever stronger.

But who can tell where the right balance should lie?

The Great Correction is all about a world out of balance, a world where humanity consumed so much that it built a monster to keep itself in check. The distant future is not a glittering utopia of space travel and high technology; it’s a carefully managed wilderness in which humanity, as the most dangerous of all animal species, is placed under strict controls so it can never again lay waste to the biosphere.

There’s only one problem – the insatiable human thirst to be more than what we are.