DayBreak Magazine 2

March 12, 2010

SHINE excerpt: “Scheherazade Cast in Starlight”

Filed under: SHINE excerpts — Tags: — shineanthology @ 8:11 pm

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Every first and third Friday of the month there will be two story excerpts from the Shine anthology. This is the twelfth one: “Sheherazade Cast in Starlight” by Jason Andrew:

The Qur’an says that all people are a single nation. Though we failed that day, we were shown the way by the will of Allah. Globalization has been a dirty word for oppressive governments. They want to keep their borders clearly defined with walls of stone and barbed wire and land mines. They want their citizens to think only of what happens in their lands, to their familes. They want us to forget that we all are one family.

Technology blurs those borders. It allows information to flow freely. It is the bane of any oppressive government. There were no more barriers to hide us away from the rest of the world. No firewalls that could keep out our stories. The world hungered for reality entertainment. When I was ready, I stepped into the starlight.

My v-casts are circulated around the world. Every action recorded and captured in amber for the world to study. Anyone in the world can watch me. I am Scheherazade cast in starlight, telling a story each night to keep my head. I competed against drunken bears roaming free in Butte, Montana. I told the world of the food shortages, the war, tragedies, and love against the tale of seven strangers trapped in a house forced to live together. I battled against Big Brother by showing stories about all of our brothers and sisters. We showed the world that the greatest stories come not from forced drama, but from life and living despite the darkness.

Each night before I slept, I checked my ranking. I was safe as long I had eyes upon me. Or so I believed. I am shamed to admit that I was drunk with my new celebrity. I had messages from foreign leaders, proud mothers, and little girls seeking a role-model. I thought that I had made a difference.

Picture Credits:

Jason Andrew lives in Seattle, Washington with his wife Lisa. By day, he works as a mild-mannered technical writer. By night, he writes stories of the fantastic and occasionally fights crime. As a child, Jason spent his Saturdays watching the Creature Feature classics and furiously scribbling down stories; his first short story, written at age six, titled ‘The Wolfman Eats Perry Mason,’ was rejected and caused his Grandmother to watch him very closely for a few years.

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Finally, also an interactive Google Map of story locations from the SHINE anthology:

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SHINE excerpts: “Sarging Rasmussen: A Report by Organic”

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Every first and third Friday of the month there will be two story excerpts from the Shine anthology. This is the tenth one: “Sarging Rasmussen: A Report by Organic” by Gord Sellar:

We started out as far from idealists, of course. As my teacher, Praxis, said when he met me: “Environmentalist? Ha, you know who gets laid less than a green radical?”

“Nobody?” I said, wishing I’d mentioned my day job as a lab tech instead of how I spent my weekends.

It was true, though. Women had seen fit to chain themselves to trees beside me, and join me in hijacking oil tankers on highways, and march arm in arm with me in the streets of a dozen countries by my side. But I’d gotten precisely one girl out of a bra in my life, and that had lasted just five weeks. 37 days, to be precise. And that had been four years before.

“‘xactly,” Praxis said with a sneer. “Nobody. But we’re gonna change all that. You’re gonna,” he said, on day one.

That was back in the days when fellas like Praxis were called mPUAs. Guys like him made a living running “boot camps” for AFCs, the Average Frustrated Chumps. Guys who didn’t know how to talk to women and were willing to spend a thousand bucks for a weekend of being coached on how talk to women.

Guys like me.

Mostly, they learned by being forced to go sarging—approaching thousands of women in a row, until they stopped pissing themselves with fear and grew a backbone. And Praxis was right: during that weekend, he changed my life… or, well, really, I did. He’d taken me and the other AFCs—a hardware engineer who called himself Axiomatic, a lonely high school teacher we dubbed Homework, a recently-divorced cop called Slammer, and some Japanese poet or something—and baptized us by fire. We went out sarging all weekend—chatting up hot women in bars and bookstores and coffeeshops, coming onto them and hassling them, teasing and rubbing shoulders and even scoring some phone numbers.

That weekend was the first time I ever wore leather. Tight leather. Peacocky leather. Praxis taught us routines, taught us cocky-funny, taught us rules of thumb and dozens of techniques, and by the end of it, every one of us had learned the secret: there wasn’t one. Getting a woman’s phone number—or anything else, for that matter—didn’t require magic, or an eleven-inch cock, or perfect white teeth. All it took was asking for it in the right way, once she was ready to give it… once you’d helped her become ready. Pretty soon, we were having the time of our lives with the kind of babes who’d terrified us just months before. I was no longer Andrew Dalton: I had become Organic, and now I was swimming in women. Tall women, short women, dark and pale, funny and serious, wild and schoolmarmish alike. I tasted every flavour there was. I’d learned techniques for getting them to come home with me in less than thirty minutes of first contact. For engineering a threesome. For getting them to give me a sponge bath dressed in nurse uniforms, while speaking in fake Polish. (Look, everyone has his kinks, and whoever claims otherwise is lying.) For the first time in my life, I was getting laid like a truckload of linoleum. And it was the part of me that was really, really enjoying all that sex that spoke first when Katana had laid out his plan.

That was the part of me that had stopped caring about how many trees got cut down at Clayoquot sound, and didn’t give a shit about the coral reefs and strip mining in the Northwest Territories. They say that a sense of impending death makes people have more sex—it’s a mammalian instinct. Well, the first year the icecaps melted completely in summer? I made that work for me, and worked out my own mammalian panic all at once. From there, I hadn’t looked back, not once, at the dying Earth.

Not till that day. And it hurt to look again at what I’d once cared about—which I think is why I yelped, “That’s fucking crazy, Katana! The tools we have… they’re for pickup. For getting laid. Not for… saving the world.”

“Yeah, man,” Biosfear said, nodding his head. “What d’ya wanna do, seduce the sun into shining less brightly? Sarge lumberjacks? Toss a few negs at metacorporations and hope that they go sweet on us?”

Biosfear laughed at the absurdity of it. We all did.

“You’re not listening, bros,” Katana said, his hands parallel in front of him like some kind of loony Japanese evangelical minister. His eyes shone with some kind of insane, holy-fire light. “You can’t seduce the sun, but you don’t need to. The environment? The ecology? It’s people. I’ve been rereading Dawkins and Page…”

We all groaned.

“…and there’s something to this extended phenotype thing,” Katana went on. “The world is what we make it. What governments decide. How giant companies decide to behave. But governments and companies, what are they?”

“People,” Biosfear said. “They’re just people, and so they can be seduced…”

“Wrong,” said Katana, flicking at the wall with his keychain remote. The smartwall flickered, and images from satellites flooded it at high speed, corporate logos and national flags flashing superimposed onto creeping desertification, megastorms, and black-smoke flashes of brief, vicious water wars. “They’re persons, legally and functionally. They’re the ultimate amogs. And they can be amogged too.”

Someone who hadn’t known us would have taken one look around the room at us in our freaky peacocky clothing—Homeboyostasis’ purple fur vest, my depilated scalp, Biosfear’s animated Magic Eight Ball T-shirt cycling through its advice—No Way!… Yes Way!… Maybe!… Go Fuck Yourself!—and declared Katana’s attempt to sway us a complete, hopeless failure.

Goes to show you what total strangers know about anything.

Picture credits:

Gord Sellar was born in Malawi, grew up in Saskatchewan, and currently lives and works as a professor of English Language & Culture in South Korea. Since attending Clarion West in 2006, his work has appeared in Asimov’s SF, Interzone, Clarkesworld, Subterranean, and The Year’s Best SF Vol. 26, among other venues, and in 2009 he was a nominee for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. This story is dedicated to his buddies named Mike—in Jeonju, Utah, and Toronto alike, for being very different kinds of men, each excellent in his own way.

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UK:Buy SHINE at Amazon UK! Buy SHINE at WH Smith!Buy SHINE at Waterstone's! Buy SHINE at the Book Depository!

Independents:Buy SHINE at the IndieBound!Buy SHINE at Books-A-Million!Order SHINE via Goodreads!

Finally, also an interactive Google Map of story locations from the SHINE anthology:

March 4, 2010

SHINE excerpts: “At Budokan”

Filed under: SHINE excerpts — Tags: — shineanthology @ 4:44 pm

Every first and third Friday of the month there will be two story excerpts from the Shine anthology. This is the tenth one: “At Budokan” by Alastair Reynolds:

I’m somewhere over the Sea of Okhotsk when the nightmare hits again. It’s five years ago and I’m on the run after the machines went beserk. Only this time they’re not just enacting wanton, random mayhem, following the scrambled choreography of a corrupted performance program. This time they’re coming after me, all four of them, stomping their way down an ever-narrowing back alley as I try to get away, the machines too big to fit in that alley, but in the malleable logic of dreams somehow not too big, swinging axes and sticks rather than demolition balls, massive, indestructible guitars and drumsticks. I reach the end of the alley and start climbing up a metal ladder, a ladder that morphs into a steep metal staircase, but my limbs feel like they’re moving through sludge. Then one of them has me, plucking me off the staircase with steel fingers big enough to bend girders, and I’m lifted through the air and turned around, crushed but somehow not crushed, until I’m face to face with James Hetfield out of Metallica.

“You let us down, Fox,” James says, his voice a vast seismic rumble, animatronic face wide enough to headbutt a skyscraper into rubble. “You let us down, you let the fans down, and most of all you let yourself down. Hope you feel ashamed of yourself, buddy.”

“I didn’t mean…” I plead, pityingly, because I don’t want to be crushed to death by a massive robot version of James Hetfield.

“Buddy.” He starts shaking me, holding me in his metal fist like a limp rag doll.

“I’m sorry man. This wasn’t how it was meant…”

“Buddy.”

But it’s not James Hetfield shaking me to death. It’s Jake, my partner in Morbid Management. He’s standing over my seat, JD bottle in one hand, shaking me awake with the other. Looking down at the pathetic, whimpering spectacle before him.

“Having it again, right?”

“You figured.”

“Buddy, it’s time to let go. You fucked up big time. But no one died and no one wants to kill you about it now. Here.” And he passes me the bottle, letting me take a swig of JD to settle my nerves. Doesn’t help that I don’t like flying much. The flashbacks usually happen in the Antonov, when there’s nowhere else to run.

“Where are we?” I ask groggily.

“About three hours out.”

I perk up. “From landing?”

“From departure. Got another eight, nine in the air, depending on head-winds.”

I hand him back the bottle. “And you woke me up for that?”

“Couldn’t stand to see you suffering like that. Who was it this time? Lars?”

“James.”

Jake gives this a moment’s consideration. “Figures. James is probably not the one you want to piss off. Even now.”

“Thanks.”

“You need to chill. I was talking to them last week.” Jake gave me a friendly punch on the shoulder. “They’re cool with you, buddy. Bygones be bygones. They were even talking about getting some comp seats for the next stateside show, provided we can arrange wheelchair access. Guys are keen to meet Derek. But then who isn’t?”

I think back to the previous evening’s show. The last night of a month-long residency at Tokyo’s Budokan. Rock history. And we pulled it off. Derek and the band packed every seat in the venue, for four straight weeks. We could have stayed on another month if we didn’t have bookings lined up in Europe and America.

“I guess it’s working out after all,” I say.

“You sound surprised.”

“I had my doubts. From a musical standpoint? You had me convinced from the moment I met Derek. But turning this into a show? The logistics, the sponsorship, the legal angles? Keeping the rights activists off our back? Actually making this thing turn a profit? That I wasn’t so certain about.”

“Reason I had to have you onboard again, buddy. You’re the numbers man, the guy with the eye for detail. And you came through.”

“I guess.” I stir in my seat, feeling the need to stretch my legs. “You—um—checked on Derek since the show?”

Jake shoots me a too-quick nod. “Derek’s fine. Hit all his marks tonight.”

Something’s off, and I’m not sure what. It’s been like this since we boarded the Antonov. As if something’s bugging Jake and he won’t come out with whatever it was.

“Killer show, by all accounts,” I say.

“Best of all the whole residency. Everything went like clockwork. The lights, the back projection…”

“Not just the technical side. One of the roadies reckoned Extinction Event was amazing.”

Jake nods enthusiastically. “As amazing as it ever is.”

“No, he meant exceptionally amazing. As in, above and beyond the performance at any previous show.”

Jake’s face tightens at the corners. “I heard it too, buddy. It was fine. On the nail. The way we like it.”

“I got the impression it was something more than…” But I trail off, and I’m not sure why. “You sure there’s nothing we need to talk about?”

“Nothing at all.”

“Fine.” I give an easy smile, but there’s still something unresolved, something in the air between us. “Then I guess I’ll go see how the big guy’s doing.”

“You do that, buddy.”

 
Picture credits:

Alastair Reynolds was born in 1966. His first short fiction sale appeared in 1990, and he began publishing novels ten years later. Chasm City, his second novel, won the British Science Fiction award in 2002. His ninth novel, Terminal World, is due imminently. He is about to embark on an ambitious and broadly optimistic trilogy documenting the expansion of the human species into solar and then galactic space over the next 11,000 years. A former scientist, Reynolds worked for the European Space Agency until 2004, when he turned full-time writer. He is married and lives in Wales, not too far from his place of birth.

US:Buy SHINE at Amazon.com! Buy SHINE at Barnes & Noble! Buy SHINE at Borders!Buy SHINE at Powell's Books!

UK:Buy SHINE at Amazon UK! Buy SHINE at WH Smith!Buy SHINE at Waterstone's! Buy SHINE at the Book Depository!

Independents:Buy SHINE at the IndieBound!Buy SHINE at Books-A-Million!Order SHINE via Goodreads!

Finally, also an interactive Google Map of story locations from the SHINE anthology:

SHINE excerpt: “Seeds”

Filed under: SHINE excerpts — Tags: — shineanthology @ 3:52 pm

Every first and third Friday of the month there will be two story excerpts from the Shine anthology. This is the ninth one: “Seeds” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia:

Two teenagers bolted past him, running so fast James almost lost his balance and dropped his multi-text device, which would have been a major problem because he had no idea how to get back to the main road. The paths had twisted and turned a dozen times before he had finally parked his car close to the town square with its double arcades.

James glared at the teenagers but they kept running. He was sure they had bumped into him on purpose. They probably recognize the logo on his suitcase.

He didn’t get it. Just on Sunday he watched a group of UNAM students parading around the Angel of Independence, wearing black and white Zapata t-shirts and yelling “maiz y libertad.” Like a perfect seed and a perfect crop was somehow wrong and Germingen was the devil. It all sounded suspiciously anarchistic to him.

Fine, it was copyrighted technology and the seeds were sterile unless they were treated with Germingen’s very own Germingrow. If the user agreement was not followed exactly as intended, Germingen would trigger the Trojan Horse built into the genetic map of the seed, but so what? You got large, perfect crops in return. In the end, they were doing these people a favor.

James shook his head, straightened his clothes and kept on walking until he reached the fountain in the middle of the plaza. Without people wearing a geo-location unit, all he could do was squint and wait under the harsh sun for his contact to arrive, guessing, rather than knowing, if any of the townsfolk headed his way were Mr. Totol.

The wind blew a cloud of dust in James face and he sputtered and swore. His suit was nano-treated, but the dirt was probably pullulating with dog faeces and some nasty germs.

When the cloud dissipated a man wearing white linen pants, a matching shirt and hat approached him and extended his hand.

“I’m Alejandro Totol,” he said. “You’ve got to be from Germingen.”

James had all of his data on the multi-text but it was going to do no good if Mr. Totol did not carry his own multi-text. By the looks of it, all the farmer had with him was a crude knapsack. He would have to introduce himself the old-fashioned way.

“James Clark, Customer Satisfaction and Services Representative, Germingen, Mexico and Caribbean division. At Germingen we develop the most resistant, innovative crops to supply the farms of tomorrow—”

“That’s nice,” said Mr. Totol, interrupting James before he could finish his speech.

“Bigger, better, stronger crops make a bigger, better, stronger world,” James ran his thumb across his multi-text device. “It says here, Mr. Totol, that you are one of our silver maize seed users. Ten-year contract, eight percent copyright and user fee and insured GM seeds, right?”

“It’s not my contract.”

“Pardon?”

“It’s not my contract. The governor got the contract for the whole state and we have to use the seeds. Everyone in Oaxaca has to do it. They have this state levy on us for the stuff.”

Picture credits:

Silvia Moreno-Garcia was born in the north of Mexico and moved to Canada several years ago. She lives in beautiful, rainy British Columbia with her husband, children and two cats. She writes fantasy, magic realism and Science Fiction. Her short stories have appeared in Fantasy Magazine, Futurismic, Shimmer and Tesseracts Thirteen. With the help of editor Paula R. Stiles and a band of eldritch writers she publishes the online zine Innsmouth Free Press. Silvia is also working on her first novel and be found online at http://www.silviamoreno-garcia.com/.

US:Buy SHINE at Amazon.com! Buy SHINE at Barnes & Noble! Buy SHINE at Borders!Buy SHINE at Powell's Books!

UK:Buy SHINE at Amazon UK! Buy SHINE at WH Smith!Buy SHINE at Waterstone's! Buy SHINE at the Book Depository!

Independents:Buy SHINE at the IndieBound!Buy SHINE at Books-A-Million!Order SHINE via Goodreads!

February 13, 2010

SHINE excerpt: “Twittering the Stars”

Filed under: SHINE excerpts — Tags: — shineanthology @ 11:42 pm

Every first and third Friday of the month there will be two story excerpts from the Shine anthology. This is the eighth one: “Twittering the Stars” by Mari Ness:

Note 1: Indeed, it’s a story told completely in tweets, and like the Twitter website, the most recent tweets show up on top. Yet, “Twittering the Stars” is written in such a way that you can read it in either direction (from top to bottom or vice-versa) and it still works.

Note 2: our current astonauts are already using Twitter, sending twitpics from the International Space Station (via BoingBoing; via io9) from astronauts Jose Hernandez (@Astro_Jose ) and Souichi Noguchi (@Astr_Soichi ), who are both on Twitter. Simply breathtaking, indeed!

@the28thkarenbear Well, being the sweetest out of 6 doesn’t mean much.
6:54 pm March 13th, 2052 from distweet in reply to the28thkarenbear

@the28thkarenbear AWW. You are the sweetest person on the planet.
5:23 pm March 11th, 2052 from distweet in reply to the28thkarenbear

I probably could concoct some alcoholic thing from my plants, but probably not the best idea.
1:19 pm March 10th, 2052 from distweet

Still, if you’re reading this, please respond. Just so that I don’t feel so alone.
10:42 am March 8th, 2052 from distweet

Right. Keep forgetting that it now takes hours for my tweets to reach you and hours for you to respond.
10:42 am March 8th, 2052 from distweet

Is anybody reading this? Anybody?
7:18 pm March 7th, 2052 from distweet

I wish all of you could see this with me.
3:01 am February 26th, 2052 from distweet

Slightly upsetting to realize that a supernova is much brighter than Earth, but it’s so beautiful.
5:18 pm February 23rd, 2052 from distweet

We’re watching the Betelgeuse supernova too. It’s—I can’t tell you how spectacular it is from here. Only the sun is brighter.
5:16 pm February 23rd, 2052 from distweet

To make up for it, A had pictures of little red envelopes on our hand screens, that exploded into fireworks when we thumbed over them.
8:03 pm January 23rd, 2052 from distweet

A celebrated Chinese New Year today by opening every door on the ship. I think she just wanted to catch T naked.
8:02 pm January 23rd, 2052 from distweet

Sorry for the long silence. Just finding that I don’t have much to say. I’m caught in the silence of stars.
4:02 pm October 12th, 2051 from distweet

@frogheart29 My first niece! Congratulations! I wish I could hold her. Show her pictures of me for me, will ya?
7:43 pm May 17th, 2051 from distweet in reply to frogheart29

And when the plants are growing, they’re growing in weird directions.
12:49 pm May 5th, 2051

@loucheroo Oh, we’re fine for food even without the garden. I just miss biting into a real tomato, you know?
12:42 pm May 5th, 2051 from distweet

I think the plants know we’re leaving the sun.
10:31 am May 4th, 2051 from distweet

The garden isn’t producing as much as expected. We should have everything—real soil, water, fertilizer, robot pollinators—
10:31 am May 4th, 2051 from distweet

I keep finding myself looking out the portholes in the gardens and labs and in our living area, and wanting to sing to the stars.
6:02 pm April 23rd, 2051 from distweet

Trying to figure out how K passed the psych tests to get on here. I know, double PhD, quan comp/eng, 8 years Chinese Air Force. Still.
3:22 am March 27th, 2051 from distweet

Ok, our worst mistake? Letting R bring along his horror film collection. In space no one can hear you scream. Yeah, right.
4:06 am March 7th, 2051 from distweet

I say I keep everyone breathing.
10:13 pm February 26th, 2051 from distweet

T says he keeps everyone alive. Not that anyone’s needed a doctor yet, and we haven’t seen him do anything else except watch the stars.
10:12 pm February 26th, 2051 from distweet

A says she’s the only one with mission for the entire trip. The rest of us stop after we mine the iridium/lithium.
10:12 pm February 26th, 2051 from distweet

K and R say they are piloting the ship. Without them, no iridium/lithium.
10:11 pm February 26th, 2051 from distweet

Major fight broke out over who has the most important job on the ship. M says lithium entire point of trip.
10:11 pm February 26th, 2051 from distweet

Sigh. SOME people have no idea how to share living quarters. You’d think a doctor of all people would be less of a slob.
8:11 pm January 24th, 2051 from distweet

Excerpt from “Twittering the Stars” by Mari Ness. Copyright © 2010 by Mari Ness.

Picture credits:

Mari Ness lives in central Florida, and likes to watch space shuttles and rockets leap into the sky. Her work has previously appeared in numerous print and online venues, including Fantasy Magazine, Hub Fiction and Farrago’s Wainscot. She’s still hoping to spend time in a space station some day.

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Buy SHINE at Amazon UK! Buy SHINE at WH Smith! Buy SHINE at the Book Depository!

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Order SHINE via Goodreads!

SHINE excerpt: “The Solnet Ascendancy”

Filed under: SHINE excerpts — Tags: — shineanthology @ 11:35 pm

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Every first and third Friday of the month there will be two story excerpts from the Shine anthology. This is the seventh one: “The Solnet Ascendancy” by Lavie Tidhar: 1 It began, the way these things usually begin, with a Proposal. This is Vanuatu. A Y-shaped archipelago of islands somewhere in the nowhere, South Pacific Ocean, home to Michener’s mythical Bali Rai, coconut plantations, coconut crabs, a few World War II downed planes, a sunken troop-carrier, volcanoes and coral reefs: its Internet domain suffix is .vu, its capital is the distant Port Vila, described by residents and visitors alike as a slightly dodgy Australian resort town, and known by the wider electronic world primarily for not having certain kinds of laws which make placing off-shore servers there profitable. There is a foreign volunteer for every thousand people on the islands, making Vanuatu the most volunteer-intensive country in the world. Welcome to Vanuatu! AusAid, Peace Corps, VSO, VSA, CUSO, JICA; EU, the Australian High Commission, the Alliance française, the Chinese, the Taiwanese, the Japanese, only the Arabs and the Israelis have so far forsaken Vanuatu – what is the nature of your project? What benefit does it have to the community? What is the amount of community buy-in? Please specify expected outcome and sustainability. How much do you need? What sort of materials? It began, the way things in Sola usually begin, if they are to begin at all, in the Market House. 10 “I want e-mail,” Fatfat Freddie says. When he speaks English he has a slight Australian accent, a remnant of his four years at university on the continent, where he did tourism and hotel management. “I want to use the Internet. Can’t you do something?” His companion is a waetman; the local most recent volunteer; Mike Rowe by name, pale despite the fierce glare of the sun, digging into the local chicken and rice without enthusiasm. “If only they could actually cook,” he says. Fatfat Freddie nods and shovels rice into his mouth. There are three bony pieces of chicken on Mike Rowe’s plate, sitting lonely and forlorn on a mountain of rice. He pushes the rice with his fork and says, “You could set up a local e-mail network fairly easily.” “Really?” “Sure. Get a wireless router, a few wireless receivers, and a server. That might be the expensive bit, but…” he sinks into thought. “If you use an existing PC you won’t even have that expense. Run it on the Province’s generator… I reckon you could cover all the adjacent offices as well. Triangulate.” The Province’s office sits in the midst of a cluster of offices—the entire administrative centre for Torba Province, encompassing the Banks and Torres Islands, thirteen islands, ten thousand people, eleven phones—and it is in wireless range of the following departments, being: Health, Education, Customs, Police, Court, Bank, Post Office. “Then, we can hook up the server to a phone line, get an Internet account, get it to send and receive e-mail once or twice a week. Turn it into an Internet gateway. Once you do this, once everything is in place, you can add users to the network at no cost, and charge them a membership fee. Piece of piss.” Kan,” Freddie says in Bislama, which is very rude. “Then why don’t we do it?” “Who’s going to pay for it?” Mike Rowe says, and makes the money sign. He pushes his plate—still half-full with rice—away and lights a cigarette instead. “We can arrange that,” Freddie says. “The EU— ” “—couldn’t find their ass if they sat on it,” Mike Rowe, twenty-three, cynical man of the world, says with feeling. Fatfat Freddie smiles. “Let me worry about that,” he says. “Just write the proposal.” Mike shrugs and waves his cigarette in the air, trailing smoke. “I’ll do it right now if you want to. Go back to the office?” “Let’s,” Freddie says. He pushes his empty plate away and belches. “I’m finished.” They go. 11 There is one road in Sola, a long wide track following the shore line, stretching from the little airport, across the Arep School, past shops and the Market House, past the Province office and the rest of the administrative buildings, past the wharf and the football field. As Freddie and his companion walk down it (slowly, for Freddie considers each step carefully before executing it, and when he speaks he stops to rest) they do not yet know that it is towards the future that they are walking. Excerpt from “The Solnet Ascendancy” by Lavie Tidhar. Copyright © 2010 by Lavie Tidhar Picture credits:

Lavie Tidhar is the author of linked-story collection HebrewPunk (2007), novellas Cloud Permutations (2009), An Occupation of Angels (2010), and Gorel & The Pot-Bellied God (2010) and, with Nir Yaniv, of The Tel Aviv Dossier (2009). He also edited the anthology The Apex Book of World SF (2009). He’s lived on three continents and one island-nation, and currently lives in Israel. His first novel, The Bookman, is published by HarperCollins’ new Angry Robot imprint, and will be followed by two more.

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January 30, 2010

SHINE excerpts: “The Church of Accelerated Redemption”

Filed under: SHINE excerpts — Tags: — shineanthology @ 12:04 am

Every first and third Friday of the month there will be two story excerpts from the Shine anthology. This is the sixth one: “The Church of Accelerated Redemption” by Gareth L. Powell & Aliette de Bodard:

With a sigh, she closed her father’s mail. She knew she should call him but her migraine wouldn’t go away, and she couldn’t banish the image of the Bedouin-scarf man from her thoughts, and the sheer incongruousness of his presence at the demonstration.

On a whim, she opened her browser. A few clicks took her from the portal of Paris’ Préfecture to a list of the demonstrations that had been planned for the day, with an interactive map showing their itineraries, agreed routes, and some general background information on the causes they supported.

Let’s see…

In the vicinity of the Church’s headquarters, there’d been one demonstration scheduled for the early morning: the bus drivers’ union protesting against the new automated, self-driving buses. But that had ended at eleven, and as far as she could see, it had nothing to do with the Church of Accelerated Redemption. She kept scrolling.

Ah, there it was…

From four in the afternoon until seven, a protest by the Extraordinary Sapience Committee against the opening of the Church of Accelerated Redemption’s new headquarters.

A quick search netted her the website of the ESC: a slick multi-media presentation merging immersive audio, 3D-animations and overlaid reports to state its case against the Church.

The Committee themselves were a loose online collective of like-minded geeks, freaks and hackers. They believed the Church’s weak AIs were capable of being upgraded into independent, free-thinking beings, and therefore subject to the same protections afforded to infants and children under French Law. The weak AIs — the ones beaming the exaflops of automated prayers into the stratosphere — might well be saving the souls of the Redemptionists, but according to the Committee, they were shown no gratitude and were treated worse than slaves or imprisoned sweatshop workers, kept on a tight leash and pre-programmed to cheerfully accept their lot in life.

There was a link on the homepage to the Committee’s bulletin boards which, when she clicked on it, opened a fresh treasure trove of controversy. There were discussion threads comparing the AI’s gel-based neural chassis with those of natural mammalian brains, and others arguing that the occasional spikes seen in their bandwidth corresponded to similar peaks seen in the human brain during intense emotional eruptions…

It had never occurred to Lisa to consider AIs as living beings. She’d always thought of them as simulations, complex computer programs designed to perform specific tasks. She’d had no idea so many people could get so worked up about defending their rights, and that they’d be so desperately trying to free them from bondage, the same way animal liberationists used to bust ill-treated dogs and cats from the world’s cosmetic labs. And she still didn’t see where the man with the Bedouin scarf fitted in at all. She’d seen a few men on the streets with that type of costume, but they had been old and conservative, unlikely to associate with angry young left-wing protesters. Hopelessly, she searched the rest of the boards, hoping to see a post from him — although she knew full well that she had no idea of his name or what he looked like under the scarf, and all the posters on the boards used aliases…

Excerpt from “The Church of Accelerated Redemption” by Gareth L. Powell & Aliettte de Bodard. Copyright © 2010 by Gareth L. Powell & Aliettte de Bodard.

Picture credits:

Gareth L Powell is a regular contributor to Interzone. His stories have appeared all over the world and been translated into seven languages. His first collection, The Last Reef, was published by Elastic Press in 2008 and Pendragon will publish his first novel, Silversands, in 2010. He lives in the English West Country with his wife and daughters and can be found online at: www.garethlpowell.com.

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Aliette de Bodard is a French computer engineer who moonlights as a writer, with short fiction forthcoming or published in markets such as Asimov’s, Interzone and Realms of Fantasy. She’s a Campbell Award finalist and a Writers of the Future winner. Watch out for her debut novel, the Aztec fantasy Servant of the Underworld, published by Angry Robot.

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January 29, 2010

SHINE excerpts: “Sustainable Development”

Filed under: SHINE excerpts — Tags: — shineanthology @ 11:56 pm

Every first and third Friday of the month there will be two story excerpts from the Shine anthology. This is the fifth one: “Sustainable Development” by Paula R. Stiles:

Normally, selling peanuts in Boubara is a job mothers send their children to do in the marché. As the spider heads up the steps into the bar, I try the usual way of calling a child — crooking my fingers at the robot. “Tsst! Petit! Viens ici!

The robot approaches me. Someone has left a carefully scrawled sign on the tray, “10 CFA par tas — 10 Francs per pile.” Village prices. I pull out a 50 CFA coin for all five tas and toss it onto the tray.

The robot tilts the tray forward until the tas begin to slip. It probably has a weight measurement control inside that calculates the coin.

Prenez tous, grand merci — Take everything, thank you,” it says in a flat, metallic voice. I scoop up the tas and dump them on the dusty cement of the bar. After I empty the tray, the robot hurries off through the empty marché.

Talk about tech dumping. Who got the bright idea to dump intelligent robots in a small African village? My predecessor, that’s who. He got them to help the men grow cash crops. Scooping up my peanuts, I stand and follow it.

Excerpt from “Sustainable Development” by Paula R. Stiles. Copyright © 2010 by Paula R. Stiles.

Picture credits:

Possessing a quixotic fondness for difficult careers, Paula R Stiles has driven ambulances, taught fish farming for the Peace Corps in West Africa and earned a Scottish PhD in medieval history, studying Templars and non-Christians in Spain. She has also sold fiction to Strange Horizons, Writers of the Future, Jim Baen’s Universe, Futures, @outshine and other markets. She is Editor in Chief of the Lovecraft/Mythos ‘zine Innsmouth Free Press. You can find her at: http://www.geocities.com/rpcv.geo/other.html or on Twitter (@thesnowleopard).

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January 18, 2010

SHINE excerpts: “Summer Ice”

Filed under: SHINE excerpts — Tags: — shineanthology @ 8:45 pm

Every first and third Friday of the month there will be two story excerpts from the Shine anthology. This is the fourth one: “Summer Ice” by Holly Phillips:

The art school can’t afford to pay her much. The people who run the place are her hosts as much as her employers, the work space they give her counts as half her salary. She has no complaints about the room, tall, plaster-walled, oak-floored, with three double-hung windows looking north and east up a crooked street, but her tools look meager in all this space. She feels meager herself, unable to supply the quantity of life the room demands. Create! the bare walls command. Perform! She carries the delicate lattice of yesterday’s images like a hollow egg into the studio, hopeful, but cannot decide where to put it down. Paper, canvas, clay, all inert, doors that deny her entry. She paces, she roams the halls. Other people teach to the sound of industry and laughter. She teaches her students as if she were teaching herself how to draw, making every mistake before stumbling on the correct method. Unsure whether she is doing something necessary or cowardly, or even dangerous to her discipline, she leaves the building early and walks on grass and yellow poppies ten blocks to her other job.

During the years of awkward transition from continental wealth to continental poverty, the city’s parks were abandoned to flourish or die. Now, paradoxically, as the citizens sow green across the cityscape these pockets of wilderness are being reclaimed. Lush lawns have been shoved aside by boisterous crowds of wild oats and junipers and laurels and manzanita and poison oak and madrone and odorous eucalyptus trees shedding strips of bark and long ribbon leaves that crumble into fragrant dirt. No one expects the lawns to return. The city does not have the water to spare. But there are paths to carve, playgrounds and skateboard parks and benches to uncover, throughways and resting places for a citizenry traveling by bike and foot. It’s useful work, and Manon mostly enjoys it, although in this heat it is a masochistic pleasure. The crew she is assigned to has been working together for more than a year, and though they are friendly people she finds it difficult to enter into their unity. The fact that she only works with them part-time does not make it easier.

Today they are cleaving a route through the wiry tangle of brush that fills the southwest corner of the park. Bare muscular branches weave themselves into a latticework like an unsprung basket, an organic form that contains space yet has no room for storage. Electric saws powered by the portable solar generator buzz like wasps against dead and living wood. Thick yellow sunlight filters through and is caught and stirred by dust. Birds and small creatures flurry away from the falling trees. A jay chooses Manon to harangue as she wrestles with a pair of long-handled shears. Blisters start up on her hands, sweat sheets her skin without washing away debris, and her eye is captured again and again by the woven depths of the thicket, the repeated woven depths hot with sun and busy with life, the antithesis of the cold layered ice of yesterday. She drifts into the working space that eluded her in the studio, and has to be called repeatedly before she stops to join the others on their break.

Edgar says, “Do you ever get the feeling like they’re just growing in again behind your back? Like you’re going to turn around and there’s going to be no trail, no nothing, and you could go on cutting forever without getting out?”

“We have been cutting forever,” Anita says.

“Like the prince who has to cut through the rose thorns before he can get to the sleeping princess,” Gary says.

“That’s our problem,” Anita says. “We’ll never get through if we have no prince.”

“You’re right,” Gary says. “All the other guys that tried got stuck and left their bones hanging on the thorns.”

“Man, that’s going to be me, I know it.” Edgar tips his canteen, all the way up, empty. “Well, come on, the truck’s going to be here in an hour, we might as well make sure it drives away full…”

The cut branches the crew has hauled to the curbside lace together like the growing chaos squared, all their leaves still a living green. As the other three drag themselves to their feet, Manon says, “Do you think anyone would mind if I took a few branches home?”

Her crewmates glance at each other and shrug.

“They’re just going to city compost,” Edgar says.

Manon thanks him. They go back to work in the heavy heat of late afternoon.

Excerpt from “Summer Ice” by Holly Phillips, originally appeared in The Palace of Repose. Copyright © 2005 by Holly Phillips.

Picture credits:

Holly Phillips is the award-winning author of In the Palace of Repose and The Engine’s Child. She lives on a large island off the west coast of Canada, and is hard at work on her next novel.

 

 

 

 

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SHINE excerpts: “Overhead”

Filed under: SHINE excerpts — Tags: — shineanthology @ 7:52 pm

Every first and third Friday of the month there will be two story excerpts from the Shine anthology. This is the third one: “Overhead” by Jason Stoddard:

“Candy!” Nils Loera said.

“No,” Ani Loera told him.

“Yes!” Nils jumped over Ani’s shoulders. Another bounce took him to the corridor ceiling, where he swung ahead of her on the exposed steel beams.

Ani shook her head. At 6 years old, Nils had already formulated his most important equation: SHIPMENT = TREAT. Nils was black-haired, blue-eyed, round-faced, and an endless bundle of energy. She couldn’t help grinning at him.

I have a kid. On the moon.

And he’s cute.

“Candy!” Nils yelled, disappearing down the corridor.

Ani caught up to him at the shaker. Nils bounced up and down in front of the scarred plastic window, frowning.

“Where’s the people?” Nils asked.

“What?”

“Nobody there.”

Ani squinted through the foggy, scratched plastic. There was only one person in the airlock. His spacesuit bore a faded tag: SHAO. Jun Shao. His silver-visored helmet reflected stark gray walls and her furrowed brow.

Ani ticked an impatient tune on the cold steel walls as the shaker knocked the abrasive moon-dust from Jun’s suit. Nils tried to do the same, but his young fingers weren’t quite coordinated enough.

Eventually, the airlock door swing open. Jun stepped out, popping his helmet. His expression was blank, unreadable.

“What happened?” Ani asked.

Jun shook his head. “Nothing there.”

“Nothing there? What do you mean, nothing there?”

“No shipment.”

“No newbies?”

“No people, no parts, no nothing.”

Ani felt fear twist her guts. They’d never missed a shipment. Ever. Not for—

Not for 15 years.

Jun shucked his gauntlets and hung them under his name in the rack. He sat down on a bench and began wriggling out of his suit. Nils helped him pull. Jun gave the kid a weak grin and let Nils unlatch his boots.

“Maybe it went off-course.”

“Has it ever gone off-course?”

A sudden thought, clear and distinct, as if someone had spoken in her ear: What if this is the end of the shipments?

Ani paced. “Did you look around?”

“Yes.”

“Thoroughly?”

“Peep my stream!” Jun looked up at her. For the first time, she saw his too-wide eyes. He was terrified, too.

Ani’s watchstream buzzed, signaling a direct message. She glanced at it; messages scrolled, as watchers realized something bad was happening. They’d be looking to her for direction.

What a terrible time to be Prime, she thought. She’d won the lottery last month.

“We have to go back out,” she told Jun. “We have to look for the drop. The shipment may have gone off course.”

“It’s never gone off course—”

“I know. But we have to look.”

Jun stopped moving and just looked at her, his face an unreadable mask of exhaustion. Ani wondered how many shifts he’d run in a row. Two? Three? More?

“Put your suit back on,” she told Jun.

Nils stopped helping Jun with his suit and looked up at her, frowning.

Ani sighed and addressed the nearest surveillance dot: “Anyone else with outside experience and a suit, come down. We need to make as many tracks as we can.”

Slowly, Jun started putting his suit back on.

“No candy?” Nils asked.

Ani forced a smile. “I’ll see what I can do.”

Excerpt from “Overhead” by Jason Stoddard. Copyright © 2010 by Jason Stoddard.

Picture credits:

Jason Stoddard is trying to answer the question, “Can business and writing coexist?” with varying degrees of success. Writing-wise, he has two books coming out in 2010 from Prime Books: Winning Mars and Eternal Franchise. He’s also been seen in Sci Fiction, Interzone, Strange Horizons, Futurismic, Talebones, and many other publications. He’s a finalist for the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award and the Sidewise Award. On the other side, Jason leads Centric / Agency of Change, a marketing agency he founded in 1994. In this role, he’s a popular speaker on social media and virtual worlds at venues like Harvard University, The Directors Guild of America, Internet Strategy Forum, Loyola Marymount University, and Inverge. Jason lives in Los Angeles with his wife, who writes romance as Ashleigh Raine.

 

 

 

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