Reader Simon Spanton sends us a “moment” from his holidays–
Please do not remove this picture from the back bar notice board.
Music drifts past, slows down for the junction, moves off along the street. Otherwise it’s quiet. C has gone to London to work. I’m in the vast invisible Russian Doll of geography. The space inside the house. The space inside the street around the house. The space inside the town around the street. The space inside the land around the town. Inside this vast structure I have relief from density. I can feel all the distinct spaces around me: the space in the loft, the space in the cellar; the space on the first floor landing, which is different not just in shape but in silence and resonance, to the space on the third floor landing. There’s such a difference in the way the air occupies these volumes! I sit on the stairs and read. I’ve got so much silence. I can’t articulate–I can’t get over to you–how much of a relief that is after 27 years in the city.
She stood companionably next to him for a moment, hands on hips, looking around the mostly empty space as if oil-stained floors and fluorescent warning stripes held an innate interest for her. Epstein didn’t like the way she relaxed. She was too hard to avoid. Her tailoring occupied the warehouse like another personality: everything interested it, from a momentary change in Epstein’s breathing to the sound of footsteps half a mile away. Every time its attention shifted, he caught the rank, exciting smell of hormonal gradients. She would smile at you behind that as if remembering something sexual you had enjoyed together, while pictographs ran chaos patterns down the inside of her forearm, from elbow to wrist like print from the historical times. She was some cheap cutter’s idea of the future.
From Empty Space (excerpt here), third volume of the trilogy that began with Light and Nova Swing (winner of the Arthur C Clarke Award 2007). All three here & at Amazon US.
Here’s the cover of the US (Night Shade Books) edition of Empty Space, published on March 5th. I’m not sure which of the major female characters the image represents, but perhaps neither the 60 year old East Sussex widow nor the genetically modified sex worker. Meanwhile, Publishers Weekly describes the book as “The third in genre legend Harrison’s Kefahuchi Tract sequence, following Light (2002) and Nova Swing (2007) … a self-referential mash-up of comedic horror and space opera caricature … most characters wallow in a state of existential angst and quantum absurdity, eventually coming to imaginatively grisly ends or beginnings, in a universe where sexual tourism powers economies and ‘stars and galaxies… look almost as remarkable as a new pair of Minnie Sittelman fuck-me pumps.’” So there you go. Order your copy now.
“Harrison is best known as one of the restless fathers of late-modern sci-fi, but genre questions are a distraction in the face of writing of such consistent brilliance and originality.” Robert Macfarlane selects Empty Space as one of his books of the year.
The dancer from the dance:
#2 in a series of found explanations