An alien encyclopedia. A missing scientist. A drug called Vermilion.
HARVEST (SHORT STORIES)
"What we've got here," the REPLman said, "is made possible by the long term investment in advanced soil biologics." It was a well known fact that the unintended consequences of mass scale farming and genetic engineering was an ecosystem that allowed almost universal bio-templating, providing the human race with the ability to grow the organs its decrepit, aging population needed to survive the same way they'd grown corn and wheat and pumpkins and so on.
RETURN TO EBYX (COMPOSITE NOVELLA)
"When we began building we thought we could build forever. The stones and the trees, they used to go on and on. This island of ours kept us afloat in the middle of what we assumed was an endless ocean, and ours the only island. Since our ancestors, pilgrims, came here hundreds of seasons ago, this was the only place we'd known. And we built because we wanted the towers and we wanted the avenues, we wanted courtyards and we wanted the balustrades and foyers and the anterooms. The thought of living in the jungle was abhorrent to us likewise the thought of small individual domiciles for entire families, that barbarity of living in close quarters."
HOLLOW MEN (NOVELLA)
"Much like the originals, they have a self defense mechanism. When triggered, this will render the unit non-functional and relay a subsonic signal down to the rest of the hive via the nearest nodes. This particular series is incapable of swarming attacks, although some other series actually are capable. However, there are a few statistical edges... these might become perturbed." He hefted his smoker up, wafting it over a couple of the boxes. "So please don't swat at the BEEEZ."
REFLEX (SHORT STORIES)
"The exposure had to be just right. It was a world in a box. She tried to be careful, but accidentally strummed the attached wires which made an electrifying noise, at a frequency that gave her goosebumps. If she didn't get it right, she'd have wasted that week, the next station would have to start over. She packed up the results, tying it precisely, wrapping it above then below with the prescribed magnetic twist."
NOTES FROM EBYX (EXPERIMENTAL)
Written in 408 chapters, taking place over a great period of time in the same world.
"Modar roamed the land by the billions, continents of fur, a great herd, an impenetrable geography of beasts. In the Sagas they were followed, tracked, relied on. They were the great creatures whose deaths fed and clothed the ancestors. Before cities, before airships, long before all of that. The Sagas begin with Modar, they are central. Their world was a single hum, a long thumping march, an expanse that seemed endless, no constraint, no prophecy, no agenda."
THE TOWN (THREE NOVELLAS)
"No. 2 and 3 and I sleep in the same bed. Some will find it odd. But brothers are brothers are brothers. And we've always slept in the same bed, always struggled over the covers and pillows and snored (not me but No. 2 especially), and the farts are often too much but yes admittedly something about gas makes it comfortable. I am jostled and prodded and No. 3's toenails are usually sharp so that I'm even scarred on my shins. We roll, back and forth, in sync, arms flopping over like willow branches or gate arms going from closed to open to closed."
MEAT (SHORT STORIES)
"You see, I was burning up last night. I walked as men possessed wander the ends of the earth, reaching out with numbed arms, & with tongue tied, & with nothing except the need to see the Truth; but aware, none the less, of things happening around me the way drunks excise moments to make a steady haze. Like that day with Asher & Gad I went into the trees & brush—true, not woods but the park—& lost myself until what I had was only the Word—the Syllable made after God made the animals, & by which we the deformed but hopeful & struggling masses attempt to amend our condition. I should remind you that the Word comes these days with snarls & snorts, no fussy doctrine at all."