/ / Stories

Salon, August 2003

German translation by Magnus Wurzer, Schnipsel, Oct 2005
Slovakian translation (Pavol Hvizdos)

I’m not really big on sequels. For me, inventing a new world is about 80% of the fun. That said, I did write one novelette-length followup (not really a sequel) to Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, this story right here, Truncat.

This is yet another one of those stories that I’ve written at a summer writers’ retreat with old Clarion classmates and friends. This one came out of a workshop at Cynthia Zender’s house in Colorado Springs, CO — the same town where Tesla set the world’s record for longest piece of man-made lightning.

It was originally published in BAKKANTHOLOGY, an anthology of stories by writers who’ve worked at Bakka, the Toronto-based science fiction bookstore where I once worked. It was a great little limited-edition book, but I wanted the story to have wider distribution, so I arranged with Salon to have it reprinted in August, just before the next WorldCon.

“Adrian, you have a million friends,” his mother said. “That’s an audited stat. I’m sorry if you feel isolated, but none of us are moving to Bangalore just so you can chum it up with this fellow.”

Adrian fought to control his irritation. His mother was always cranky before breakfast, and a full-blown fight could extend that mood through the whole day. No one needed that. “Mom,” he said, twisting his body in the narrow, three-person coffin he shared with his folks so that he could look her in the eye, “I’m not asking you to move to India. All I’m doing is explaining my paper.”

His mother snorted. “_The Last Generation on Earth_, really! Adrian, if I were your instructor, I sure wouldn’t graduate you on the strength of something like that. I don’t really care if that boy in India has convinced the ITT people that his trendy little thesis holds water. The University of Toronto has higher standards than that.”

It had been a mistake to even discuss it with his mother. At 180, she was hardly equipped to understand the pressures he and his miniscule generation faced. He should’ve just written it and stuck it in his advisor’s public directory. Only just that he’d had the coolest idea in the night and he’d reflexively bounced it off of her: once his generation reached maturity, the whole planet would be post-human, and a new, new era would start. The Bitchun Society, Phase II.

“OK, Mom, OK. I’m going to get breakfast — you want to come?”

“No,” she said, rolling back over. “I’m going to wait for your father.”

Past her, he saw the snoring bulk of his father, still zonked out even through their heated exchange. Adrian grasped the ceiling rails and inched himself out of the coffin and into the public corridor.