Wednesday, May 22, 2013


She was a small, slight woman not much older than Hari, the sleeves of her oversized quilted jacket cuffed back to her elbows. She yawned when Rav started to explain who Hari was and how he had ended up in Fei Shen, said every transient had some kind of bad luck story and none of them were very interesting.

‘Use this, kid,’ she told Hari, and threw a package at him.

His bios caught it, ran it through a sandbox to check for hidden djinns, implemented the simple trait it contained. Layers of information settled through him. Map and phone functions, a ticker that showed the slow, steady unravelling of his store of credit. The hours left before he had to go to work for the city, or find a way of leaving it.

He thanked the woman (her tag was a wireframe cube that contained a clear blue flame and no readable information, not even her name); she shrugged inside her jacket.

This was in a dark little shop where thick, heavy True lifebooks, bound in metal or manskin or shimmering polymers, were chained to wooden presses. A single volume was spreadeagled on a lectern, its pages wider than the span of Hari’s arms and printed with double columns of elegant handwritten script as black as the outer dark. Intricate and colourful illustrations framed the tall initial letters of the first words of every paragraph, and at the top of the right-hand page a woman with a burning gaze and bright yellow hair looked out of a window, talking about something that no doubt had been important in the long ago, when she had been alive.

From Evening's Empires


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