October 4, 2012

Excerpt From "Brain Freeze", by Vincent Mackay

   Last excerpt.  Launch tomorrow.  Can't wait!

  Two years ago, when Chief Hansen had come to Foster’s apartment to recruit him into the squad, Foster had just finished a series of conferences around the seven flying cities. He’d given his Poetry and Synapses lecture to the usual audiences of five frog-eyed academics and two weirdoes, in the standard ultra-light, ultra-polymer, ultra-hideous college auditoriums.
   He was drinking a well-deserved glass of wine at the oak table that was his only piece of furniture, wishing he had a view of the open sky from his place, when the doorbell rang. A man stood there, looking out of place in his black fatigues. A blunt form of energy emanated from him, like that of a pitbull, or a boulder rolling down a hill.
   “Chief Ule Hansen, head of the New Montreal Bomb Squad,” the man had said, extending a calloused hand.
    Foster was confused. Why was this boulder in his doorway? He shook the proffered hand. “Hi. Gerald Foster. I’m more of a pine tree than a boulder. Please come in.”
   Chief Hansen frowned. “Yeah, they warned me you were strange,” he said, and accepted the invitation nonetheless.

Excerpt From "Cobbled", by Tarquin Steiner

 Alright, so this is almost our last excerpt.  This one is what I think of as our geeky piece.  For those of you who played those old games on BBSs, waaaaay back before the real internet, this will bring back fond memories.

Cobbled Road

It is night. Dim gas lanterns light the street.

To the east is the cobbler's shop. In the upper window are two bright candles.

The ocean breeze chills your neck.

> that's the signal!

You had better get moving.

> run to the door

You burst into the cobbler's shop. The young woman behind the counter starts. "Sir? Is everything alright?"

Cobbler's Shop

It is night. The room is lit well with several lamps.

A few tools are hanging on the wall. Piles of shoes and unsorted papers have collected in every corner.

The west door out is closed.

> ask about cobbler

(to the girl)

"He's upstairs. You must be Stevens. May I take your coat?"

> climb stairs

You leave the woman at the counter and track dirt up the stairs.

Cobbler's Shop---Upper Corridor

Three doors and a stairway down.

> knock on the doors

You proceed down the hall, knocking on each door in turn. From the second, an old voice echoes.

Cobbled Road

It is night. Dim gas lanterns light the street.

October 2, 2012

Excerpt From "Strings", by Richard Larson

This story stood out to me because it is set in a futuristic, dystopian version of Africa, which is something I had never encoutered before.  It's also a murder mystery, a genre that holds a special place in my heart, from my first Agatha Christie novel to Fred Vargas' quirky, Paris whodunnits.  Please enjoy.

“So you are not the killer.” The investigator rolls the Coke can across his baked black forehead.
             Nuru’s fingers drum on the table. “No,” he says.
The investigator crooks his head and a fat policeman shuffles forward, thumps an old solar laptop down between them. The investigator tracks his finger across the dirty screen and Nuru watches the murder play out in pixels.
              “Here is you, here is your hands on his neck. Your hairs—everywhere.”
              “Yes, yes, you know this means nothing.” Nuru’s fingers drum harder, angry.
              The investigator flicks his tongue against the cold can like a lizard. “So why is your boss dead, you puppet son-of-a-whore?”
              “I think it has to do with Kataryna,” Nuru says, and his organs feel suddenly damp and heavy in his gut. The investigator whirls away, showing off his exasperation. He curses in French, too fast to follow, but Nuru hears the word for Christian and recognizes guignol as well. He spins the laptop around and clacks something in.
             “The white bitch?” he demands. “The European?”
The laptop faces Nuru again, showing a headshot. Her skin is bleached ghostly. The exposure was not meant for white skin, but the camera-man didn’t know better.
              “Yes,” Nuru says, and his fingers die one by one on the plastic. “Her.”

Excerpt From "If Not the Moon, Then the Exquisite Sun", by Carl Roloff

Today's excerpt.  My name for it is poetic sci-fi.  It has real beauty, as well as the end of the world.

All the flowers open at once, and suddenly we're surrounded by the scents of a thousand blossoms that won't live out sunrise. We had called them the Dawn Callers, by their strange quirk of opening about an hour before the sun began to swell. Shimmering dark purple, the kind only a full moon can really bring out.
“You need to make up your mind soon,” she says, her head pillowed on my stomach and me spread-eagle on the ground like one awaiting crucifixion. “We could still go together, save ourselves.”
It was the end of all things. Our sun was to betray us, but we had found an escape of sorts. We had discovered that everyone's dreams, everyone's hopes, hates and loves could be distilled, reduced down by some arcane process into a lattice of purest crystal. We would abstract ourselves into gauzy glimmering structures, lazy cobwebs of colour that refract the light into mad patterns and sudden pits of darkness. A human, translated into a chip of eternity. Then, the flight from our doomed planet: convoys of carnelian, emerald and garnet sailing out into the deepest reaches of space. We would go with the hope that being an unthinking piece of beauty was better than being a cinder.