So, as Ann and I finish up editing the NW anthology and sending it to Tachyon, I thought we’d post some short excerpts…and you can guess who wrote them. First person to guess correctly wins a copy of the anthology signed by the editors. Now, what makes it tricky is that not every excerpt is from a previously published story…
Er, any writer in the NW anthology is ineligible to guess. Let’s set a deadline for guessing of Tuesday, August 1 at midnight. If no one guesses all nine of them correctly by then, the one who guesses the most wins. If there’s a tie, the first one to guess wins. Please use your full name when posting your comment/guess.
You can preorder the New Weird anthology here.
Mystery Excerpt #1
The floors of his halls are polished, black stone. The walls are rough, gray stone, as are the ceilings. His hallways are extensive, forming perfect grids. Each hall between the intersections has ten doors upon each side. Each door is distanced from the next by two spans of —’s arms–one and one half spans of his father’s arms. The halls are lit by light bulbs hanging single and naked over the intersections. The bulbs are of various wattage, and expire periodically. In certain intersections, the halls are nearly dark, lit only by light bulbs four intersections distant. In other intersections, the halls are brightly lit, the polished floors glistening as if wet. There, the light bulbs are globes, larger than he imagines his brain to be.
Mystery Excerpt #2
The Gutter moves among men like the waft of a deadly chemical that has assembled itself in human form. He stinks primarily of brine. But there are other smells that fortify his breath; and his body, too, reeks powerfully of dreadful odors. There is no telling the liquids with which he has soiled himself, but the oddity of their collective hue on the front of his smock is as ominous as it is filthy. Yet it is more than repulsion that causes people to maintain their distance. His face is a living image of nastiness, with a perpetual scowl that could easily be mistaken for a deformity. And there is a hunger in his eyes–more feral than human–that betrays an insatiable need for satisfactions that lie far beyond the tastes of ordinary men.
Mystery Excerpt #3
At last, inside the Battidarmala terminal, the tedious first stage of the terrorist’s journey had come to an end. And excruciatingly tedious it had been. Most of the trip had been spent standing, packed pelvis-to-buttock with seething humanity. Sleep was accomplished in shifts in special windowless cars, segregated by sex and outfitted with hard coffin-like niches from floor to roof, amidst suffocating odors of flatulence and sweat. Meals were catch-as-catch-can, based on whatever prepared foodstuffs vendors were selling as they raced alongside the slowing train. Voiding of bowels and bladders occurred in public while hanging from a kind of bosun’s-chair lofted outward from the train, while the train was still in motion. (Fatalities were common.) Facilities for ablutions were non-existent.
Mystery Excerpt #4
Barring disease or disaster, a salp’s host will live as long as the salp remains in its symbiont phase. What happens after that, Jin doesn’t know. She’s seen the transformation, the salp fighting its way free of its protective sac, all claws and teeth and wet-glistening membranous wings; she’s seen the new creature–called a salp no longer, but instead a dhajarah–launch itself, screaming, for the sky, and the dog which a minute ago had been a friend, a fellow-soldier, collapse to the ground, a lifeless sack of bones and fur. But no dhajarah has ever returned to talk to a salp. She doesn’t know if her friend Mutlat, if her friend Ru, are still themselves as they hurl themselves across the sky or hang in their rookeries in the vaults of the cathedrals, the railway stations, the cavernous, reeking warehouses that bulk along the docks. She doesn’t know if she will still be Jin.
Mystery Excerpt #5
The temple on the other side of the clearing came to life within. Pale light rippled on greenish, half-ruined stonework. Some of our men must have lit a fire there. I heard noises of delight and some complaints from the women who had been with the spy. One began to shout in that peculiar, irritating high-pitched half-wail they all use when they are trying to appeal to us. For a moment —– and I had a bond in our disgust. I felt flattered. —– made an impatient gesture, as if of embarrassment. He turned his handsome face and looked gravely down at the peasant. “Does it matter to you? You’ve lost a great deal of blood.” “I do not think I am dying.” —– nodded. He was economical in everything, even his cruelties. He had been prepared to tear the man apart with horses, but he knew that he would tire two already overworked beasts. He picked up his cap from the camp table and put it thoughtfully on his head. From the deserted huts came the smell of our horses as the wind reversed its direction. I drew my borrowed burka about me. I was the only one in our unit to bother to wear it, for I felt the cold as soon as the sun was down.
Mystery Excerpt #6
— squinted through the blowing veils of snow. He recognized a number of the laborers. Though all were bald, and all cloned from a mere half dozen masters, their heads were tattooed in individual designs so as to distinguish them from each other. Numbers and letters usually figured into these design codes. Some had their names tattooed on their foreheads, and all tattoos were colored according to department: violet for Shipping, gray for the Vat, blue for Cryogenics, red for the Ovens, and so on. —-’s tattoo was of the last color. But there was also some artistry employed in the tattoo designs. They might portray familiar landmarks…at least in ancestry. Animals, celebrities, sports stars. ——’s tattoo was a ring of flame around his head like a corona, with a few black letters and a bar code in the flames like the charred skeleton of a burnt house.
Mystery Excerpt #7
Two harrowing months of sodden depression slithered by at a snail’s pace before word finally came that a man from a distant land, a traveling practitioner of medicine, had recently arrived by ship in Gile. —- and I went in search of him, traveling through the night in the royal carriage, driven by none other than —-. Though I was wary of the philosopher’s sense of direction, his invisible brother was usually trustworthy. We arrived at daybreak by the sea and witnessed the gulls swarming as the fishing boats set out. “Do you think it is a good idea that you came back?” I asked her as we left the carriage.
Mystery Excerpt #8
Last night was calm, and the sacrifice burned evenly. It was a candle on the table, the night’s focus and its terrible purifier. Who was he who was burning with such a high and unwavering flame? What did he believe he knew that no one in the valley of —— knew, which was more than life, more than his own boiling tears and his scalding eyes? Was it as clearly visible to him as the fire on the mountain was to me? To me, lingering on the balcony; to me, who could not take my eyes off the fire, was no justification to him, no expiation, no comfort.
Mystery Excerpt #9
To —-, their progress took on the confused, uncontrollable quality of a dream. She started feeling that she had slid sideways into an alternative, stupidly surreal existence which was crammed full of details that were irritating, strange and boring all at once. Crowds of late-night shoppers and party-goers surged under green and red silk lanterns hanging on wires across the streets, hurrying as if on missions of great and secret importance. The hag put the whip to the horse, which panted like a demon-beast in front of them, white breath steaming from its nostrils and bones moving like pistons under its skin. Y’s lovely head lolled, saliva pooling in the corners of her mouth.