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Semper fi, Caesar!

It's sci-fi meets HBO's Rome: Serial fiction on Reddit takes the Marine Corps back in time.


Kevin Morris


Posted on Sep 1, 2011   Updated on Jun 3, 2021, 3:01 am CDT

When you post a question to Reddit’s largest polling hub, AskReddit, you never know what kind of responses to expect: erudition, teasing, bad one-liners, and the occasional witty comeback.

What you don’t expect: An epic work of sci-fi mixed with HBO’s series Rome.

That’s what Reddit user The_Quiet_Earth discovered when asking this innocently entertaining question: “Could I destroy the entire Roman Empire during the reign of Augustus if I traveled back in time with a modern U.S. Marine infantry battalion or MEU?”

In a flurry of creative, caffeinated talent, redditor Prufrock451 responded with prose.

Seven chapters, in fact, detailing the experience of a fictional marine unit mysteriously transported to first century BC Rome. There, the marines enter into martial conflict with the imperial forces of Augustus Caesar.

On Reddit, it’s a huge hit—a late summer blockbuster of the comment sort.

“This has been like watching someone write a book at warp speed,” wrote redditor machton. “And the story is PHENOMENAL.“

Prufrock451’s first chapter received nearly 3,000 points (upvotes minus downvotes) and was featured in Reddit’s r/bestof section, where redditors highlight the site’s best comments.

That drew sitewide fame, and redditors rushed into the comments section, urging him to finish the story.

“QUIT JOB ENTERTAIN ME,” wrote distracting_hysteria.

“Continue, for the love of all things holy, continue later,” wrote redditor lolxcorezorz. “Please.”

All that prodding worked. Prufrock451 has apparently heeded the call of the masses.

“Thank you all, thank you so damn much,” he wrote. “I do not want to get stabbed by angry nerd-hordes, so I hereby pledge to keep this rolling.”

And now, thanks to the help of some other redditors, his story has its own home on Reddit: r/RomeSweetRome. That section already has nearly 6,000 subscribers.

Prufrock451 said he plans to write three to seven entries a week.

Reddit, along with other news aggregators, is replacing the newspaper as a place where the news gets packaged up and distributed. Could it also be, like newspapers of yore, a new home for serialized fiction?

Photo by mauricedb

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*First Published: Sep 1, 2011, 1:00 pm CDT