Cutter thought of the perpetual train deserted, growing old, made at last of age and weather as rain and wind turned its iron into red dust and the slates and thatch of its remade roofs slipped untended and mouldered, became mulch. In the shade of the flatcars weeds would pierce the hard floor of the train and its spokes and axles would be knotted with stems, honeysuckle, an empire of buddleia. Spiders and wilderness animals would run its nooks, and the boiler would grow cold. The last stores of coal would settle like the striae of ore they had once been. The smokestacks would clog with windblown loess. The train would be made of landscape. The rocks in which it sat would be stained with train.
And all of a sudden it seemed obvious. I was living through an apocalypse. I was at a dating service in the middle of a slow apocalypse. Things weren't going to get better like the government said, they were going to keep getting worse.
Danielle told me that she'd really enjoyed meeting me; I said me too, although I had no idea whether I'd enjoyed meeting her or not. There was a song spinning in my head now, some really old thing about how when the world was running down, make the best of what's still around. It's funny how apropos songs find their way into your head without you realizing.
Myrtle, being the eldest, decided to take charge. She bounced up to the snailherd and said loudly and clearly, 'Excuse me, my good fungus, we have been shipwrecked on your horrid planet. Please direct us to the residence of the British Governor.'
The mushroom tilted his broad, spotted cap at her, and two sad, black eyes blinked out from beneath his gills. He made a bobbing motion, and said something in the whispery, sighing speech of the Moon.
"In those days I had this secret game. When I found myself alone, I'd stop and look for a view -- out of a window, say, or through a doorway into a ro...more"In those days I had this secret game. When I found myself alone, I'd stop and look for a view -- out of a window, say, or through a doorway into a room -- any view so long as there were no people in it. I did this so that I could, for a few seconds at least, create the illusion the place wasn't crawling with students, but that instead Hailsham was this quiet, tranquil house where I lived with just five or six others. To make this work you had to get yourself into a sort of dream, and shut off all the stray noises and voices. Usually you had to be pretty patient too: if, say, you were focusing from a window on one particular bit of the playing field, you could wait ages for those couple of seconds when there wasn't anyone at all in your frame. Anyway, that was what I was doing that morning after I'd fetched whatever it was I'd left in the classroom and come back out onto the third-floor landing."(less)
"It's zero dark o'clock and you're coiled up on the futon in your living room like a basket case, goggles glued to your face by a mixture of sweat and...more"It's zero dark o'clock and you're coiled up on the futon in your living room like a basket case, goggles glued to your face by a mixture of sweat and determination. Your hands are twitching and spazzing from side to side, and you're muttering under your breath like an old alkie communing with his invisible pink proboscidean. At least, that's how it would look to a time-traveling intruder in your wee house who didn't know what was actually going on -- the body adrift in the grip of a weird compulsion while the mind decays inside it. A time-traveller from the 1980s or later might notice the winking LED status lights on the boxes under the flat-screen telly and guess at the significance of the glasses, and from the early nineties onwards they'd stand a good chance of understanding the muse whose arms you dance in: But to a visitor of Wellsian or earlier vintage, it would be wholly incomprehensble other than as some weird display of vile degeneracy."(less)
"She told me once, while St. Augustine was still alive, that when she put her hand on the dog's coat she wanted to feel his heat and his liveliness --...more"She told me once, while St. Augustine was still alive, that when she put her hand on the dog's coat she wanted to feel his heat and his liveliness -- not count the beats of his heart or consider the vast spaces between the nuclei and the electrons that constituted his physical being. She wanted St. Dog to be himself and whole, not the sum of his terrifying parts, not a fleeting evolutionary epiphenomenom in the life of a dying star."(less)
"As the clouds thickened around the rescue crawler, Auger caught a brief glimpse of the sinuous track of the Seine, a flawless ribbon of white ice dot...more"As the clouds thickened around the rescue crawler, Auger caught a brief glimpse of the sinuous track of the Seine, a flawless ribbon of white ice dotted here and there with cordoned dig sites. Further away, picked out in darkling glints from hovering airships, she made out the lower two-thirds of the Eiffel Tower, bent to one side like a man struggling against a gale.
'Is it such a crime to want to make the Earth livable again?' Cassandra asked.
'In my book it is, because we can't do it without erasing everything down there, severing every single thread back to the past. It's like whitewashing the Mona Lisa when there's a blank canvas next door.'"(less)
"What was an experience becomes a dream and then a memory. I cannot see the edges between the three...
I moved in a direction I had never known existed...more"What was an experience becomes a dream and then a memory. I cannot see the edges between the three...
I moved in a direction I had never known existed. I felt the scuttling slide of that great multitude of legs as the dancing mad god moved along powerful threads of force. It scampered at obscure angles to reality, with all of us bobbing beneath it. My stomach pitched. I felt myself catch and snag on the fabric of the world. My skin prickled in the alien plane.
For a moment the god's madness infected me. For a moment the greed for knowledge forgot its place and demanded to be quenched. For a sliver of time, I opened my eyes.
For a terrible eternal breath I glimpsed the reality through which the dancing mad god was treading."(less)
So instead of delivering another exhilarating hardboiled detective fiction by way of cyberpunk novel Morgan instead decided to write about how corpora...moreSo instead of delivering another exhilarating hardboiled detective fiction by way of cyberpunk novel Morgan instead decided to write about how corporations and militarism are bad. Also a good chunk of the novel involves the characters trying to open a door. Because, it's hard to open, because, of, reasons, and stuff. And martians. And war is bad. And corporations are greedy. And sometimes wars are fought over money or corporate interests or no reason at all. Cool beans, but that's pretty common knowledge and doesn't make for a compelling novel, especially when the author fails to first establish a world and people in which we care about, so we could give a shit about all the wrongdoing. In addition to all of this, Morgan's writing, which was never his strong point in the first place, seems to have gotten even worse, using stock characters with cliched descriptions and poor plotting. So. Disappointing. (less)
"Walking along a gangway, like on a tall ship, concrete ship, miles above the sea of glass. Me, Beetle, Mandy, Tristan, and Suze. Oh yeah, and the dog...more"Walking along a gangway, like on a tall ship, concrete ship, miles above the sea of glass. Me, Beetle, Mandy, Tristan, and Suze. Oh yeah, and the dog. Karli. Great slavering fur metal beast, stretched out taut at the end of Suze's leash. Tristan carrying his gun, just for show really. Who's going to touch him? Because they know what would be coming then. And two robodogs let back in the flat, looking after the homestead. Night coming down. No one talking much, just walking the high-rise hung up on private things. Each still strung out on wisps of herb, just enough to make the world seem kind of beautiful, even this place. The emptiness inside of me reflected in the glass fragments. So I was a thousand times sad, with each footstep. Sometimes even broken glass, cracked cement, sad lives; well they seem like the good dreams of bad things.(less)
"You've got a lot of secrets, huh?" she said. "Some, he said. "Deep, dark ones?" "All secrets become deep. All secrets become dark. That's in the nature...more"You've got a lot of secrets, huh?" she said. "Some, he said. "Deep, dark ones?" "All secrets become deep. All secrets become dark. That's in the nature of secrets."(less)
"She opened her eyes, and the world had changed. The far hills were forever rolling brown and green waves with a crest of breaking white foam. The pla...more"She opened her eyes, and the world had changed. The far hills were forever rolling brown and green waves with a crest of breaking white foam. The plain fumed with light; the pattern of pastureland and copses in the foothills looked like camouflage, moving but not moving, like a tall building seen against quick clouds. The forested ridges were buckled division in some huge busy tree-brain, and the snow- and ice-covered peaks about her had become vibrating sources of a light that was sound and smell as well. She experienced a dizzying sense of concentricity, as though she was the nucleus of the landscape.
Here in an inside-out world, an inverted hollowness.
Part of it. Born here.
All she was, each bone and organ, cell and chemical and molecule and atom and electron, proton and nucleus, every elementary particle, each wave-front of energy, from here... not just the Orbital (dizzy again, touching snow with gloved hands), but the Culture, the galaxy, the universe..."(less)
"Knowledge was power. And in seizing knowledge, humanity had gripped a power as bright and angry as a live wire. At stake were issues vaster than any...more"Knowledge was power. And in seizing knowledge, humanity had gripped a power as bright and angry as a live wire. At stake were issues vaster than any before: the prospects were more dazzling, the potentials sharper, and the implications more staggering than anything ever faced by humanity or its successors.
Yet the human mind still had its own resources. The gifts for survival were not found only in the sharp perceptions of the Shapers, with their arsenals of brain-stretching biochemicals, or the cybernetic advances of the Mechanists and the relentless logic of their artificial intelligences. The world was kept intact by the fantastic predilection of the human mind for boredom."
"Jack? YOu finished al---" He stared at the gun in my hands without comprehension, then as the muzzle came...more"As I advanced into the room, he glanced up.
"Jack? YOu finished al---" He stared at the gun in my hands without comprehension, then as the muzzle came to within half a meter of his face a note of asperity crept into his voice. "Listen, I didn't dial for this routine."
"On the house," I said dispassionately, and watched as the clutch of monomolecular shards tore his face apart. His hands flew up from between his legs to cover the wounds, and he flopped over sideways on the bed, gut-deep noises grinding out of him as he died.
With the mission-time display flaring red in the corner of my vision, I backed out of the room. The wounded animal outside the door opposite did not look up as I approached. I knelt and laid one hand gently on the matted fur. The head lifted and the keening rose in the throat again. I set down the shard gun and tensed my empty hand. The neutral sheath delivered the Tebbit knife, glinting.
After, I cleaned the blade on the fur, resheathed the knife, and picked up the shard gun, all with the unhurried calm of the Reaper. Then I moved silently to the connecting corridor. Deep in the diamond serenity of the drug something was nagging at me, but the Reaper would not let me worry about it."(less)