Liquid Muse

Liquid Muse by Cora BuhlertJonah Winter has developed the perfect creativity enhancing drug – one hundred percent effective, non-addictive and safe.

Ron Varnhagen has experienced the drug’s remarkable properties for himself and plans to invest in Jonah’s venture. But then he learns of the horrifying secret behind the drug and its production…

This is a short science fiction story of 2600 words or approx. 10 print pages altogether.


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Some background information:

  • Liquid Muse is a short story of 2600 words. This story is a digital premiere and has never been published previously.
  • This story was written as part of the 2016 July short story challenge. The idea was to write a short story per day in July 2016.
  • Unlike most other stories resulting from the 2016 July short story challenge, Liquid Muse did not have a clear inspiration. As far as I recall, it was sparked by the juxtaposition of two news headlines, one about a genetic component to creativity and one about gentrification and how young artists moving into the soon to be gentrified neighbourhoods are usually the first step, when things are still looking up for the neighbourhood. At the same time, I also saw a call to donate blood on Twitter and something clicked.
  • My long-standing views about gentrification, the tech start-up culture and the social devaluation of artists compared to tech entrepreneurs, particular in but not limited to the US, also played into the story. Coincidentally, it’s one of the more explicitly political stories I have written.
  • When I started writing, I assumed that Ron would invest in Jonah Winter’s venture. However, Ron surprised me by having more of a moral backbone than I would have thought.
  • There are a handful of pop culture references in Liquid Muse. Ron refers to the movie Soylent Green and its famous line “Soylent Green is [spoiler]”, a reference Jonah does not get and mistake for a references to Soylent, the unfortunately named protein drink popular in the tech and start-up scene. At one point, Jonah also refers to the musical Rent by Jonathan Larson about starving artists dying of HIV, which – as Ron points out – is an updated version of Giacomo Puccini’s opera La Bohème about starving artists dying of tuberculosis.
  • The cover is stock art by Dtvector. It’s supposed to be a graphic representation of migraine treatment, but the psychedelic look of the image was simply too good to pass up. The look is supposed to be an homage both to Wes Wilson’s psychedelic posters for the Fillmore Ballroom and other music venues as well as to the psychedelic science fiction covers of the 1960s and 1970s.