The Best of All Possible Worlds

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The Best of All Possible Worlds is a story written and illustrated by Iron Eater. It ran in Special Issue 12 at, and is mirrored at


Some people are too stubborn to die, though that doesn't mean they're good at accepting outside help.

Once or twice some of the nomads who wandered the Waste Belt had gotten inside to take shelter, sure, and she'd even befriended some of them last time, but it was no place for people with wanderlust. They'd come, they'd hide from the weirdness for a little while, then they'd go back on their ways again. Tess couldn't blame them; it took effort navigating through the trees towards the center of the snarl, and that was because she knew where she was going and who she would see. It was effort she was barely capable of exerting herself, and not everyone had a vehicle that could just float over the worst of the roots and burrows.

Naturally, all that effort meant she didn't see the obvious trap until she felt the impact on the side of her craft that cut her safety harness and sent her hurtling from the driver's seat.

There had been plenty of books back home—other ones than the kind with dinosaurs, but no less interesting—talking about the different kinds of synthetic organisms that roamed the world Before. Some were big and blocky, like tanks with legs, and those were the sort that handled industrial things like construction, drilling, and security work. Some were small and compact, perfect for deliveries or surveillance or creeping into tight spaces for maintenance. Others were more specialized, their insectoid chassis concealing manufacturing tools or medical equipment as they tiptoed around humans on rubber-tipped feet. Others still were meant to serve as sources of companionship, integrating state-of-the-art polymers and even organic materials in their construction to seamlessly integrate into society as eerie, often beautiful cybernetic citizens. This final type wasn't designed for combat inasmuch no person was inherently designed for a fight, but that didn't stop the battered and half-shucked cyborg model that had emerged from the overgrowth from staring up at Tess with a makeshift energy rifle trained on her head.

"That trap's for brigands," said the cyborg, her eyes narrowed. The optic in her right socket glinted red. "If you're in it, does it make you one?"

"Hi, Candida," said Tess with a sheepish grin.


The Best of All Possible Worlds includes strong allusions to the plot and protagonist of Voltaire's Candide, particularly said character's decisions at the end of the book. Voltaire's original work contains far fewer lesbians.

Related Links[edit]

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Author's Notes[edit]

I very briefly considered writing a story about the Canard Digérateur for the sake of having fun with the issue theme, but opted against it. I think the cyborg story I ended up writing worked out okay!

Post-apocalyptic stories are, in my opinion, at their finest and dandiest when they're focusing on how people cope, reconnect, and adjust to their new life, whatever that might mean. My continued need to talk at length about people trying to grow food for other people has once again emerged, this time with pitcher plants! Amazing what you can get to grow in Kansas.

I'm not entirely sure what happened to wreck the world, since it honestly doesn't matter for the sake of the story, but it very likely involved some sort of dimensional whoopsie given that there's rejects from Steven King's The Mist tromping all about. There's stretches of assorted devastation across the globe but the Waste Belt is one of the nastier parts of North America. People are generally trying to make the best of it, and Primordia genuinely isn't the only environmental restoration facility in the world, though it's going to take a lot of work getting things a little user-friendlier again. Thankfully the vast majority of human knowledge survived the event so people are very big on sharing books (especially those on tape since they're most useful to travelers).

The comment about whoever designed Primordia being into prog rock is inspired by the architectural work of Roger Dean, which seemed suitably futuristic for the project.

Candida's half-ripped face is most strongly taken from long-standing feelings about the T-100's eye from Terminator 2 and Raiden's goofy mouth from Metal Gear Solid: Revengeance. Characters with damaged or obscured eyes are a long-running motif of mine and I am unlikely to stop any time soon. My life, my choices.

I opted for a landscape this go-around, despite wanting to draw one or both of the leads, but some unfortunate schedule changes in our household encouraged me to paint some trees instead. I think it worked out!