Getting to Know You

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  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: Trade Paper
  • Copyright: 2008-12-30
  • Publisher: Del Rey
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Not since William Gibson and Bruce Sterling galvanized science fiction in the 1980s has the emergence of a new writer been heralded with such acclaim as that attending David Marusek, whose brilliant first novel, Counting Heads, appeared to rave reviews in 2005. But Marusek did not come out of nowhere. Aficionados of the genre had already taken note of his groundbreaking short fiction: masterfully written, profoundly thought-out examinations of futures so real they seemed virtually inevitable. Now, in this collection of ten short stories, Marusek's fierce imagination and dazzling extrapolative gifts are on full display. Five of the stories, including the Sturgeon Award-winning "The Wedding Album," a shattering look at the unintended human consequences of advanced technology, are set in the same future as Counting Heads. All ten showcase Marusek's talent for literate, provocative science fiction of the very highest order. From the Trade Paperback edition.


THE WEDDING ALBUM Anne and Benjamin stood stock-still, as instructed, close but not touching, while the simographer adjusted her apparatus, set its timer, and ducked out of the room. It would take only a moment, she said. They were to think only happy, happy thoughts. For once in her life, Anne was unconditionally happy, and everything around her made her happier: her gown, which had been her grandmother's; the wedding ring (how cold it had felt when Benjamin first slipped it on her finger!); her clutch bouquet of forget-me-nots and buttercups; Benjamin himself, close beside her in his charcoal gray tux and pink carnation. He who so despised ritual but was a good sport. His cheeks were pink, too, and his eyes sparkled with some wolfish fantasy. "Come here," he whispered. Anne shushed him; you weren't supposed to talk or touch during a casting; it could spoil the sims. "I can't wait," he whispered, "this is taking too long." And it did seem longer than usual, but this was a professional simulacrum, not some home-made snapshot. They were posed at the street end of the living room, next to the table piled with brightly wrapped gifts. This was Benjamin's townhouse; she had barely moved in. All her treasures were still in shipping shells in the basement, except for the few pieces she'd managed to have unpacked: the oak refectory table and chairs, the sixteenth-century French armoire, the cherry wood chifforobe, the tea table with inlaid top, the silvered mirror over the fire surround. Of course, her antiques clashed with Benjamin's contemporaryand rather commondecor, but he had promised her the whole house to redo as she saw fit. A whole house! "How about a kiss?" whispered Benjamin. Anne smiled but shook her head; there'd be plenty of time later for that sort of thing. Suddenly, a head wearing wraparound goggles poked through the wall and quickly surveyed the room. "Hey, you," it said to them. "Is that our simographer?" Benjamin said. The head spoke into a cheek mike, "This one's the keeper," and withdrew as suddenly as it had appeared. "Did the simographer just pop her head in through the wall?" said Benjamin. "I think so," said Anne, though it made no sense. "I'll just see what's up," said Benjamin, breaking his pose. He went to the door but could not grasp its handle. Music began to play outside, and Anne went to the window. Her view of the garden below was blocked by the blue-and-white-striped canopy they had rented, but she could clearly hear the clink of flatware on china, laughter, and the musicians playing a waltz. "They're starting without us," she said, happily amazed. "They're just warming up," said Benjamin. "No, they're not. That's the first waltz. I picked it myself." "So let's waltz," Benjamin said and reached for her. But his arms passed through her in a flash of pixelated noise. He frowned and examined his hands. Anne hardly noticed. Nothing could diminish her happiness. She was drawn to the table of wedding gifts. Of all the gifts, there was only onea long flat box in flecked silver wrappingthat she was most keen to open. It was from Great-Uncle Karl. When it came down to it, Anne was both the easiest and the hardest person to shop for. While everyone knew of her passion for antiques, few had the means or expertise to buy one

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