The stories in this volume were inspired by Shakespeare’s plays. While each punk story reads well on its own without knowing anything of the Bard’s play that inspired it, we thought you may appreciate a short synopsis of each play – followed by a hint of how it is interpreted in punk fashion.
Macbeth is an overly ambitious, proud nobleman who has been gaining a good reputation on the field of battle. As the war ends, he and his trusted friend Banquo encounter three weird women (witches). The three make several predictions, including that Macbeth will become the Thane (or nobleman) of Cawdor, and eventually King of Scotland, but that the future line of royalty will descend from Banquo and not Macbeth. Both men are drawn to the idea of their future success. King Duncan does indeed name Macbeth as Thane of Cawdor, fulfilling part of the prophecy, but names his own son Malcolm as the heir to the kingdom.
Macbeth sends a letter to inform his wife, Lady Macbeth, of the witches’ predictions and that King Duncan will honor them by visiting their home. She has her own ambitions, perhaps even stronger than Macbeth’s, but fears that Macbeth doesn’t have courage to murder King Duncan and seize the throne; she resolves to convince him. Macbeth does eventually stab the sleeping Duncan, and nobleman Macduff finds the body the next morning. Heir Malcolm escapes the country, indicating guilt in the murder, and Macbeth is named King.
Worried about the prophecy, Macbeth arranges for the murder of Banquo and his son Fleance but the son escapes. Both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth become more guilty over their betrayal and murder of the King and the others. Macbeth sees the bloody ghost of Banquo at a feast, and the weird sisters appear to him again; they warn him to beware Macduff, but that Macbeth can never be killed by “one of woman born” and that he needn’t worry until he sees Birnam Wood begin to move. Lady Macbeth starts sleepwalking, haunted by guilt: “Out, damned spot! Out, I say!” (5.1.37).
Macduff advances on Dunsinane Castle with an army concealed by branches cut from Birnam Wood as camouflage. Macbeth learns that Lady Macbeth has taken her own life, and he is killed by Macduff after he learns that Macduff was “from his mother’s womb, untimely ripped” — in other words, born by cesarean section.
Cyberpunk story: “Mac” by Carol Gyzander
Mac lives in a drab post-apocalyptic world with a moddy chip in his brain that controls his human emotions – including his ambition – until he and his wife Lydia are set free to discover their dark sides, and he meets a future for which he was never prepared.
Much Ado About Nothing
Several soldiers (Don Pedro, Claudio, Benedick and the sour Don John) arrive at the idyllic home of their friend Leonato after a war. Claudio soon falls in love with Hero, the lovely young daughter of their host, and they plan to marry, while quick-witted Benedick is soon back to quipping and arguing with the clever Beatrice. The group manages to convince Benedick and Beatrice to fall in love – since they are obviously quite taken with each other.
However, Don John can’t stand happiness, and orchestrates a series of events that convince Claudio that his beloved Hero has been untrue. Claudio rejects her and casts aspersions on her character, and her family convinces him that Hero is dead of grief. Claudio mourns her and feels terribly guilty when her innocence is finally revealed but he thinks she has died; his host Leonates says that he must proclaim Hero’s innocence to the town, and then persuades him to marry his “niece” who is revealed to actually be Hero — they are reunited and married — in a double wedding with Benedick and Beatrice.
Dieselpunk story: “A Town Called Hero” by Warren C. Bennett
An idyllic town welcomes the soldiers as the war with the Fatherland ends. Squadron Captain Ben Pedro falls in love with the local reporter, Betty, and learns that all is not as it seems in picture-perfect Hero.
See http://www.bardweb.net/plays/othello.html for an excellent plot summary
Dieselpunk story: “The Green Eyed Monster” by S. A. Cosby
Proud mercenary Othello Jones is sent on a hero’s mission – to steal confidential nuclear material from the sleek, modern airship called The Green-Eyed Monster. Wealthy, famous and married to a beautiful exotic dancer, Othello has everything to fight for. But it’s too much for his jealous “friend” Iago to handle. Othello, beware.
See http://www.bardweb.net/plays/tempest.html for an excellent plot summary
Teslapunk story: “Prospero’s Island” by H. James Lopez
Prospero makes technological enhancements to the nymphs, including Ariel, whose legs are made of graphite from pieces of his ship. Caliban appears to be a cyborg, Miranda and Portia are handy with guns, and watch out for the tiger-like sycori – who feed on nymphs.
The Winter’s Tale
See http://www.bardweb.net/plays/winterstale.html for an excellent plot summary
Steampunk/Clockpunk story: “The Winter’s Tale” by Jeffrey Cook
A mad aristocrat suspects his wife of infidelity. A young woman is raised unaware of her true family. And a clockwork music box has an important part to play. Plus, a much bigger part for the bear!