Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Chromosomal

More archival noting, in this case Ken MacLeod's Human Genre Project. This poem (not actually called 'Chromosome 13', whatever it says there):
This chromosomal Usual Suspects line:
Tentacle arms in I surrender pose;

Look closer, though: and each is made of zips.
The microtubal slider is drawn down

Their lines sag open, yawn, and through
These smallest needle-eyes emerge

Men, elephants and whales; bulked biospheres:
A meta boa’s swallow in reverse.

This isn’t a surrender: they’ve all won.
The arms are up in celebration.
And this story, which is called 'The Chrome Chromosome' and which starts like this:
‘You know how Candelaria robots are,’ says the first.

‘I don’t,’ he replies. ‘Tell me.’

‘Meticulous, is one thing. When they set out to replicate a homo sapiens, they do it thoroughly. From the baseline—up.’

He considers this. ‘Where am I?’ he asks.

‘Leonardo.’

But that means nothing. ‘What’s Candelaria?’ he tries. ‘They’re, what: different to regular robots?’

‘See, you know robots.’ says a second voice. ‘But you don’t know Candelaria.’ One voice, two voices. It’s like he’s talking to Tweedledum and Tweedledee. ‘It’s all in there,’ Tweedledee says. ‘Need to rootle it out. You know your own name?’

He finds he does. ‘Thirteen.’

‘There you go!'
Re-reading the story was an interesting experience. There are bits of it I quite like; like this hailstorm, which is the start-point for the end of the world:
‘You’re definitely starting to remember stuff.’ Tweedledum again. A grin, in the dark, like a crescent moon on its side. The scent of grape. And in his thoughts Thirteen was standing in a vineyard—in an actual, true-to-god vineyard—and it was chilly, and the light was changing. Hail was rattling through the leaves, and the sky was closing. An old world storm. Lightning flashed, but distantly and indistinctly, a shuddering glimmer through the unscattered clouds. Those hailstones were tiny and hard: grit-monsoon.

‘I’m getting,’ says Thirteen. ‘I’m getting memory flashes—.’

2 comments:

mahendra singh said...

The poem was good but the short story was brilliant, really liked it. If you ever have the hankering to do something Victorian/Carrollian and if the publisher is deranged enough to permit budgeting for an illustrator, I would love to do something inky with the likes of Chromosome 13 …

BTW, I noticed that you're doing short stories in all the sf sub-genres, but you've forgotten one category! The robinsonade qualifies as SF, I think, perhaps even the reductio ad absurdam of all SF.

Scribble, scribble, scribble, eh?

Adam Roberts Project said...

Thank you!

You get a free pass for anything you might ever want to do with my work. If my publisher ever gives me the budget, and empowers me to choose the artist, for anything of mine that needs illustrating (not very likely, I'm afraid) you'd be my first choice.