The laugh came then, a marvelous honking hoorah so infectious that Dill felt it should be quarantined.
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The laugh came then, a marvelous honking hoorah so infectious that Dill felt it should be quarantined.

-Ross Thomas

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We came back [from Mars]," Pris said, "because nobody should have to live there. It wasn't conceived for habitation, at least not within the last billion years. It's so old. You feel it in the stones, the terrible old age. Anyhow, at first I got drugs from Roy; I lived for that new synthetic pain-killer, that silenizine.And then I met Horst Hartman, who at that time ran a stamp store, rare postage stamps; there's so much time on your hands that you've got to have a hobby, something you can pore over endlessly.And Horst got me interested in pre-colonial fiction.""You mean old books?""Stories written before space travel but about space travel.""How could there have been stories about space travel before - ""The writers," Pris said, "made it up.""Based on what?""On imagination. A lot of times they turned out wrong [...] Anyhow, there's a fortune to be made in smuggling pre-colonial fiction, the old magazines and books and films, to Mars. Nothing is as exciting. To read about cities and huge industrial enterprises, and really successful colonization. You can imagine what it might have been like. What Mars ought to be like. Canals.""Canals?" Dimly, he remembered reading about that; in the olden days they had believed in canals on Mars."Crisscrossing the planet," Pris said. "And beings from other stars. With infinite wisdom. And stories about Earth, set in our time and even later. Where there's no radioactive dust." [...]"Did you bring any of that pre-colonial reading material back with you?" It occurred to him that he ought to try some."It's worthless, here, because here on Earth the craze never caught on. Anyhow there's plenty here, in the libraries; that's where we get all of ours - stolen from libraries here on Earth and shot by autorocket to Mars. You're out at night humbling across the open space, and all of a sudden you see a flare, and there's a rocket, cracked open, with old pre-colonial fiction magazines spilling out everywhere. A fortune. But of course you read them before you sell them." She warmed to her topic."Of all -

-Philip K.

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Time and time again I am astounded by the regularity and repetition of form in this valley and elsewhere in wild nature: basic patterns, sculpted by time and the land, appearing everywhere I look. The twisted branches in the forest that look so much like the forked antlers of the deer and elk. The way the glacier-polished hillside boulders look like the muscular, rounded bodies of the animals- deer, bear- that pass among these boulders like loving ghosts. The way the swirling deer hair is the exact shape and size of the larch and pine needles the deer hair lies upon one it is torn loose and comes to rest on the forest floor. As if everything up here is leaning in the same direction, shaped by the same hands, or the same mind; not always agreeing or in harmony, but attentive always to the same rules of logic and in the playing-out, again and again, of the infinite variations of specificity arising from that one shaping system of logic an incredible sense of community develops…Felt at night when you stand beneath the stars and see the shapes and designs of bears and hunters in the sky; felt deep in the cathedral of an old forest, when you stare up at the tops of the swaying giants; felt when you take off your boots and socks and wade across the river, sensing each polished, mossy stone with your bare feet. Felt when you stand at the edge of the marsh and listen to the choral uproar of the frogs, and surrender to their shouting, and allow yourself, too, like those pine needles and that deer hair, like those branches and those antlers, to be remade, refashioned into the shape and the pattern and the rhythm of the land. Surrounded, and then embraced, by a logic so much more powerful and overarching than anything that a man or woman could create or even imagine that all you can do is marvel and laugh at it, and feel compelled to give, in one form or another, thanks and celebration for it, without even really knowing why…

-Rick Bass

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For Someone Awakening To The Trauma of His or Her Past:For everything under the sun there is a time.This is the season of your awkward harvesting,When the pain takes you where you would rather not go,Through the white curtain of yesterdays to a placeYou had forgotten you knew from the inside out;And a time when that bitter tree was plantedThat has grown always invisibly beside youAnd whose branches your awakened handsNow long to disentangle from your heart.You are coming to see how your looking often darkenedWhen you should have felt safe enough to fall toward love,How deep down your eyes were always owned by somethingThat faced them through a dark fester of thornsConverting whoever came into a further figure of the wrong;You could only see what touched you as already torn.Now the act of seeing begins your work of mourning.And your memory is ready to show you everything,Having waited all these years for you to return and know.Only you know where the casket of pain is interred. You will have to scrape through all the layers of coveringAnd according to your readiness, everything will open. May you be blessed with a wise and compassionate guideWho can accompany you through the fear and griefUntil your heart has wept its way to your true self.As your tears fall over that wounded place,May they wash away your hurt and free your heart.May your forgiveness still the hunger of the woundSo that for the first time you can walk away from that place, Reunited with your banished heart, now healed and freed,And feel the clear, free air bless your new face.

-Ross Thomas

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The mornings came hard, and our caddie master, Dick Millweed, had a temper that could make a hangover seem like a seismic fracture. He was a small man with a soft, friendly voice. He was not intimidating at all, until he lost it. In his defense, he took shit from all sides - from the members who wanted their favorite caddie and their preferred tee time, from the golf staff who wanted him to perform a million menial duties, and from us when we showed up bleary eyed and incoherent and sometimes didn't show up at all. And God forbid a caddie should stumble in late, because then Millweed's lips would begin to tremble and his blue eyes would explode from his head. They grew as large as saucers and shook as though his skull was suffering earthquake. And he appeared to grow with them. It was like some shaman or yogi trick. Pound for pound, I've never met anyone else who could so effectively deliver anger. He would yell, "You like fucking with me, don't you? You like making me look bad! You wake up and say, 'Today I'm gonna fuck with Millweed!' and it makes you happy, doesn't it?"And we had no choice but to stand there and take it - hang our heads and blubber apologies and promise never to be hung over again, never to show up late again, because he held the ultimate trump card _ he could fire us and cut us off from the golden tit. But once we were out on the course walking it off, the hanover and any cares associated with it (including Millweed) evaporated into the light mountain air. And after the round, with our pockets replenished and our spirits restored by the carefree, self-congratulatory ebullience of the uberrich, we were powerless to resist the siren song of clinking glasses, the inviting golden light of the street lamps and tavern windows in town, and the slopeside hot tubs steaming under the stars. We all jumped ship and dined, danced, and romanced the night away and then were dashed against the rocks of Millweed's wrath all over again the next morning.

-John Dunn

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Since Sienna was in an unusually cooperative mood, the session went well. He was returning from it midmorning - after a short detour - when a small naked body barreled into him in one of the main corridors. Steadying the boy with Tk, he looked down. The child lifted a finger to his lips. "Shh. I'm hiding." With that, he went behind Judd and scrambled into a small alcove. "Quickly!Not sure why he obeyed the order, Judd backed up to stand in front of the alcove, arms crossed. A flustered Lara came running around the corner a few seconds later. "Have you seen Ben? Four-year-old. Naked as a jaybird?""How tall is he?" Judd asked in his most overbearing Psy manner.Lara stared. "He's four. How tall do you think he is? Have you seen him or not?""Let me think...did you say he was naked?""He was about to be bathed. Slippery little monkey."A giggle from behind Judd.Lara's eyes widened and then her lips twitched. "So you haven't seen him?""Without a proper description, I can't be sure."The healer was obviously trying not to laugh. "You shouldn't encourage him - he's incorrigible as it is."Judd felt childish hands on his left calf and then Ben poked his head out. "I'm incorwigeable, did ya hear?"Judd nodded. "I do believe you've been found. Why don't you go have your bath?""Come on, munchkin." Lara held out a hand.Surprisingly strong baby arms and legs wrapped around Judd's leg. "No. I wanna stay with Uncle Judd."Lara anticipated his question. "Ben spends a lot of time with Marlee.""I spend a lot of time with Marlee," a small voice piped up.

-Nalini Singh

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