The alien hears them from his solitary fortress. Violence, sickness, and starvation echo through ruined cities, the rusting rib-cage of the dying world. He has always heard them; from the moment of planet-fall, his super-hearing has been assaulted by humanity’s long screams of suicide. He used to care, before endless pathetic mewling hardened his heart. He used to act, before disgust at savagery overcame empathy. They begged, prayed, demanded help; refusing, unable to help themselves. After a time he stopped caring. Stopped acting. Sitting in his melting castle, he waits for a lasting silence to indicate an end. Extinction. Peace.
McKie began reflecting on his role of sentiency. Once, long centuries past, con-sentients with a psychological compulsion to ‘do good’ had captured the government. Unaware of the writhing complexities, the mingled guilts and self-punishments, beneath their compulsion, they had eliminated virtually all delays and red tape from government. the great machine with its blundering power over sentient life had slipped into high gear, had moved faster and faster. Laws had been conceived and passed in the same hour. Appropriations had flashed into being and were spent in a fortnight. New bureaus for the most improbably purposes had leaped into existence and proliferated like some insane fungus.
Government had become some great destructive wheel without a governor, whirling with such frantic speed that it spread chaos wherever it touched.
In desperation, a handful of sentients had conceived the Sabotage Corps to slow down that wheel. There had been bloodshed and other degrees of violence, but the wheel had been slowed. In time, the Corps had become a Bureau, and the Bureau was whatever it was today – an organisation headed into its own corridors of entropy, a group of sentients who preferred subtle diversion to violence… but were prepared for violence when the need arose.
Whipping Star – Frank Herbert
Whipping star: 3 out of 5 stars
Whipping star was picked up in a second hand store. An impulse purchase; I’m a big fan of Herbert’s Dune series, and have enjoyed the first two books of the Pandora Sequence (reviews are here and here). This one was ok – it’s a solid sci-fi book, but didn’t rock me. Continue reading
“Charlie? God he’s dense sometimes.”
Chatter and cigarette smoke drifted across the yard. Both irrelevant; a mild annoyance at worst. His eyes narrowed, unblinking.
“We should get him tested. See if he’s ‘special’, y’know…”
Charles concentrated. Water beads on the waxy surface of a leaf. Imperfect spheres, glittering, reflecting, refracting sunlight. Diamonds under his scrutiny.
“Never listens, y’know? Don’t matter how I yell at him neither.”
Intense focus until…
Water spheres resulting from… surface tension of liquid? Weak adherence to leaf wax? Hydrophobic effect?
Charles smiled, showing off his first and only tooth.
“Poor little dummy, so easily amused.”
“Shhhh!” Meg hissed. “Get the hell down!”
Tracey ducked behind a rusty spreader. “Sorry,” she whispered. “But this seems wrong.”
“Wrong?” Meg burst out, her shout echoing between farm buildings. “What’s ‘wrong’ is what this stuff does to people.”
In the moonlight Meg seemed less the crusader Tracey had followed; instead with chaff embedded in her dreadlocks she looked comical, a ridiculous scarecrow hippy. Tracey’s gut roiled as Meg finished connecting explosives to the silos.
“But this isn’t even a GMO crop!”
“Sorry Trace,” said Meg. She looked up, eyes wide, hungry for chaos. “But I just can’t tolerate gluten.” Continue reading
Instead of home, Boris returned to his office, where he touched the scrying ball. An image of the seditionist’s hideout superimposed itself onto his room. He watched as the shapes moved around, congregated in little discussion groups. He was now filled with hatred for those subversives. They were dreamers and he would smash their dreams. Their discussions slowly diminished to whispers in the night until they were quiet. But in the background Boris could see two of them coupling quietly; in the darkness it looked like one dark creature changing shape, struggling to transform itself. Eventually that, too, finished and Boris stared alone into the dark. Unwrapped Sky – Rjurik Davidson.
The first two chapters are available online here.
Unwrapped Sky – 5 out of 5 stars
Another book by an Australian author read during April, another Gemmell Morningstar award nominee (Godless was also), and another awesome 5 star book*. Loved this book, real characters with depth, a gorgeous and intelligent complexity throughout in the plot and the story, and a fearless approach to including outlandish fantastical elements without bringing . The writing style was dense, intricate, bordering poetic. What really stood out for me was the way Davidson cleverly mingled philosophical discussion about the socio-political conflict into the driving forces of this story whilst managing to remain very tightly character focused. Plus – it has philosopher-assassins**! Let’s be honest – this is a demanding book. It’s not the world’s easiest read, but it is rewarding. Find yourself a quiet space and dedicate some time to it. Worth your time.
A single drip of sweat runs down a neck reddened by my kissing, a rivulet from our passionate exertion working past her shoulders her to flow down her back as she fossicks through her bedside drawer. “I can’t find any either… dammit I think we’re out.”
We stare at each other; questioning, testing, tentatively looking for that subtle indication of the other’s boldness; an appetite for risk and each other. Desire impels us together and we embrace; these moments are too rare for caution.
A low keening wail from the baby room shatters our moment into unrecoverable shards of frustration; I stow my libido and begin my hunt for the nappy bag.
This looks like solid advice to me:)
Because “just do what you love” translates as “I have never even imagined being poor“. But like all statements which are simply wrong, acknowledging a little extra complexity can extract a useful lesson.
More fun with images: