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Archive for the ‘Fragments’ Category

A long time ago, I was working on a novel called The Difference Engine but my enthusiasm for the project waned when I realized it was just a lot of really self-exposing anthropomorphic animal fiction. Sometimes I think I leapt right over the part where you’re supposed to write what you enjoy and immediately onto “write what you enjoy but only if it has a modicum of respectability to it.” My inability to write without self-consciousness eventually killed the project. As with many of my old ideas, I never know whether to leave it buried or to heave it up and try a proper reboot. One of my favorite characters in the project was the irrepressibly weird blind electronic musician Neon Green Daugherty, who was for a short time my single most present and connected character. She went a little something like this:

* * *

“It’s called ‘gestalt music’,” said the dark-glasseded woman I knew only as SpaceBatAngelDragon. I myself do not have a fancy Internet nickname; the peculiar young woman was probably thinking of me as ‘jscott’ right now, which, for the moment, was fine by me. “Audio fusion. It’s like pointillism for the ears. Two distinct tones blending in the middle of the head to create a richer audio experience than any monophonically-presented chord.”

“Yes,” I said. “That’s kind of a basic tenet of stereo sound.”

“Right!” said SpaceBatAngelDragon. “Anyway, the whole thing fascinates me. So when I started experimenting for real, that’s where I started. My first piece was designed for headphones, and it consisted of two, well, pretty different tracks of music. Different time signatures, musical styles, all that. All designed to harmonize in interesting ways when your head tried to put it together. Sadly, I no longer have access to that piece, because I wrote it in Andante for the Archimedix 2000, and the world’s last functioning Archimedix 2000 died a peaceful death in Hobart, Tasmania in 1998. I still have the discs, but nothing on this earth can read them. I think it’s sad that the Archimedix never actually made it to the year 2000 after all.”

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Her name was Lower Fleet Captain Marya Irina Nkmraaou D’Arcangel, and like most of her people, she resembled nothing more or less than a very large, biped-shaped Russian Blue cat. Her ready-room was paneled in synthetic polywood the color of well-stained oak, she kept a decanter of Old Earth brandy on her desk and she always, always, carried an electrolash. And she was unhappy.

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It was yet another glorious rat-filled day for Jayna Stiles, formerly of Dernholm.

Madeline Chesney, Savior of Arcanum, eats her way to Victory.

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For this month, have a sneak preview of the Kickstarter-exclusive Skin Horse bonus story, “Night Milking,” detailing a rather odd day on the job for Unity during the period she was employed by the government cheese folks.

* * *

Unity was not sure whether or not she believed in God, but the Upper Midwest at night was evidence enough that if He did exist, He certainly enjoyed scaring the crap out of Himself.

For the one thing, it was very quiet. Unnervingly so. Unity had become used to the low-grade diplomatic bustle of McLean, Virginia (the only city Unity could come up with that was named after a kind of disgusting hamburger sammych from the 1990s), so being out in the middle of screw-all silent nowhere was profoundly unsettling to her. There were lots of comforting city-noises whose absence Unity was feeling very keenly at this point. She missed the screams, for one thing. She missed the sounds of tearing metal. She missed the wail of distant emergency sirens that confirmed the authorities were looking in completely the wrong place for whatever it was she had just done to cause the screams and the sounds of tearing metal.

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Madeline Chesney, Savior of Arcanum, Proposes Something Truly Revolting.

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Madeline Chesney, Savior of Arcanum, Goes Dumpster-Diving.

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They Fight Crime

“Well,” I said. “This is the last time I ever buy furniture from one of those ‘unpainted furniture marts’.”

The dryad sighed and took a drag on the cigarette I’d loaned her, one of only four remaining in my household. “I’m not happy about it either, you understand,” she said. “But it beats being trapped in an entertainment center my entire life.”

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