Coming back from my Wilderness Week, I sat by an odd sort of man in the bus. For a long time we didn’t talk; I was mending stockings and he was reading. Then the bus broke down a few miles outside Gresham. Boiler trouble, the way it generally is when the driver insists on trying to go over thirty. It was a Supersonic Superscenic Deluxe Longdistance coal-burner, with Home Comfort, that means a toilet, and the seats were pretty comfortable.
The winds blow pretty regular across the dried-up lake. Traction’s good — when luck’s on your side you can reach three hundred KPH or faster. Harper watches the hot rods race on thick white salt so pure and bright the satellites use it for colour calibration. Harper doesn’t care about souped-up hot rods.
There is evidence that Joan of Arc was a man. Accounts of her trial state that she did not suffer the infirmity of women. When examined by the prelates prior to her incarceration, it was found that she lacked the characteristic escutcheon of women. Her pubic area, in fact, was as smooth and hairless as a child’s.
Mishy had lived in the undersea city for twenty years. When she went down in the submersible, she was very young and very frightened, all bones and worries, but the years under the water did not feel like they had aged her on the inside. It was only when she had to look at the others that she could see that she was different after all.
Something strange is happening to me. We’re at Conrad’s vacation house, a sprawling mansion that orbits the gas giant Hades-3. (His father owns both the house and the planet.) Conrad is in the living room watching sports. His girlfriend Alyssa is standing by the mirror in the bathroom, fixing her hair. Her friend Kat is sitting near the bay windows, watching the stars and the roiling vermeil clouds on the world below.
Tara sat in the back of her marine biology class and read the news on her braille tablet. One hundred eighty-seven countries had recognized Mars as the first off-planet country, much to the consternation of the as-yet-unrecognized lunar colonies. The Martian flag was blue with a red circle. Like Mars itself, the flag was inaccessible to Tara.
In April of 1934, H. G. Wells traveled to the United States, where he visited Washington, D.C. and met with President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Wells, sixty-eight years old, hoped the New Deal might herald a revolutionary change in the U.S. economy, a step forward in an “Open Conspiracy” of rational thinkers that would culminate in a world socialist state.
The mobster has a gun pressed to Rack’s forehead. The mobster has a god-shitting GUN pressed to her partner’s fucking forehead, and the only thing Rhye can do is watch and scream as the man smiles at her and pulls the trigger and blows Rack’s perfect brains out from between his ears.
We are not terrorists. We have not done this because we wish to terrify or instill fear. We do what we have done in order to bring the truth to everyone, a truth that burns away the lies and leaves only itself. We are no more terrorists than the invisible hand of the market is a terrorist.
This is what they used to call a meet cute, back when movies were made by people like Ernst Lubitsch or Billy Wilder, when movies had plots and dialogue, when life and love had rules, back in the last century. A handsome officer in the Soviet embassy (does that tell you how long ago?) picks up the phone one day and hears a lilting female voice asking him if he can tell her, please, what is Lenin’s middle name. “It’s for my crossword puzzle.”