A to Z Reviews: “Know Your Target Audience,” by Dan Mygind

A to Z Reviews: “Know Your Target Audience,” by Dan Mygind

A to Z Reviews

In 2010, Carl-Eddy Skovgaard selected several examples of Danish science fiction to be translated into English. The stories were published in the anthology Sky City and included Dan Mygind’s “Know Your Target Audience,” which originally appeared in 2007 as “Kend din målgruppe” in Skovgaard’s anthology Lige under overfladen: en dansk sf originalantologi.

Mygind’s story is set in a futuristic world five decades after a dirty bomb exploded in the Copenhagen subway system, leaving the city uninhabitable. Straight Talk is an entertainment and news, or perhaps propaganda, organization that has just had a major success running the World Song Competition. While celebrating, Straight Talk CEO Ole Kraft finds himself cornered by Peter Nielsen, one of the company’s employees who has a tendency toward believing in conspiracy theories.

Nielsen explains to Kraft that the authorities were aware of the dirty bomb prior to the explosion but allowed it to happen. Kraft pushes back against him, asking for proof and Nielsen describes his investigations, which included searching out physical clues and finding files that had been deleted from old computers.

Whether or not the conspiracy Nielsen believes he has unearthed is true or not within the context of the story, and there are indications that he has uncovered the truth, Mygind is more interested in exploring the collaboration between modern media and the authority figures they should be holding to account. The question isn’t whether Kraft believes Nielsen or knows what really happened, rather it is the simple fact that Kraft has no interest in following up on the questions that Nielsen raises. Straight Talk has recently won an award and has the success of the World Song Competition behind them and Kraft doesn’t want to jeopardize the company’s position by making them the sort of nuisance that Nielsen is making of himself.

After presenting the situation to the reader, Mygind does not appear to be interested in exploring the “reality” behind the situation. The ethics he presents are not complex. Nielsen has done his due diligence and is at the mercy of both the authorities and Kraft. Kraft knows the decision he must make and doesn’t question either the evidence, the decision, or the results of his actions, presenting what could have been an intriguing and complex choice  in stark terms in which black and white don’t even come into the issue, let alone shades of gray.

While all of the stories appearing in Sky City are translations from the original Danish, “Know Your Target Audience” was translated into English by the author, who lives in England, which gives the translation an authority of its own. The author knows what he wants to say and knows the language in which the story is being presented without having to rely on a third-party to ensure that his words and message are accurate.

 


Steven H Silver-largeSteven H Silver is a twenty-time Hugo Award nominee and was the publisher of the Hugo-nominated fanzine Argentus as well as the editor and publisher of ISFiC Press for eight years. He has also edited books for DAW, NESFA Press, and ZNB. His most recent anthology is Alternate Peace and his novel After Hastings was published in 2020. Steven has chaired the first Midwest Construction, Windycon three times, and the SFWA Nebula Conference six times. He was programming chair for Chicon 2000 and Vice Chair of Chicon 7.

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Mr Dan Mygind

Hi Steven,
Thanks a lot for a review of my first attempt at writing a science fiction story.
It was actually written back in 2004 as part of a competition arranged by the Danish Union of Journalists to celebrate its 100 years anniversary, hence the focus on Journalism and the often unacknowledged self-censorship by media organisations; in the short story taken to extremes.

It was awarded a 2nd prize as a bit of an unconventional entry as the other entries were proper journalism, not fiction 🙂
The story wasn’t published as such, so I submitted it to Science Fiction Cirklen and Carl-Eddy as a contribution to their very first “Under Overfladen” anthology in 2007.

I have since written a few more short stories “Christians København” and “Det transparente samfund” which are also investigating current themes from today’s society under the prism of what-if fiction and my background as a computer scientist and journalist.

In 2016, my first novel “Verdensfortællerne” (The World Narrators) won a publishing contract and was published in 2017 by Science Fiction Cirklen.
I was inspired by the stealth (mis-)information operations carried out by shadowy intelligence organisations in order to shape public opinion. The public got a little peek into those kind of operations with the revelation of how Cambridge Analytical used psychometrics to create targeted messages to individuals in order to make Trump US President and Brexit happen in the UK.
I extrapolate that with more advanced technology, a digital resistance movement, a few suspicious deaths among journalists, computer cryptographers and activists (real world events) into a partly brilliant story (partly, as the end of the story is a bit inconclusive, but I am writing a follow-up to rectify that 🙂 )

Thanks again for your review!


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