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Monday, May 17, 1999
By Paul Ford
How do I start?
Her friends had built her up to go ahead and do this, encouraging her to jump past her embarassment. And she had to admit, the restaurant was fine. There was really no shame in answering a personal ad. After all, he wrote divine emails. She just wished he'd sent a picture.
She checked her coat, and a waiter in a tuxedo showed her to a private, reserved dining room. To have a private dining room here, she decided, was an extremely good sign.
The door opened, and the first thing Nora saw was an original Vermeer, hung neatly on the wall above the table. Below the painting was a Slrth, a member of a pus-oozing species of pornography-trading space spice merchants. This was her date. She was struck by a sudden wave of nausea.
"Won't madam have a seat?" asked the perfectly attendant waiter. The Slrth simply waved an eyestalk in greeting.
--"My Date With a Slrth"
Hefting the spacehole remover to his bare shoulders, Dr. Weistel entered a complex equation into his datacomputer. In fluent Galactese, he said, "finally, I will control all the nursery schools in the solar system!" But in another part of the galaxy, Jim Thrustbuster was preparing to take corrective action.
--"The Panultimate Dander"
The Large-breasted Warth is the least evolved of all the sentient birds in the Nrg sector of Planet Cove IX--but it might disagree with that appraisal.
--"The Time Ring Trees of Planet Cove IX"
His fingers bash the keyboard, and the augmented muscles in his neck twitch around the gold socket on his cognitive skullpatch. Chisa is lost in the gray reaches of the digital neurospance, the landscape of human data, a world projected directly into his consciousness by wires only molecules thick which ran from his spine out through his neck, through a socket in the wall, and from there....
Using a series of commands, he calls up an ideographic transpanel document, an abstracted piece of paper which shows the results of a week of manipulating tiny symbols, making his program perfect--not just free of bugs, but fast and beautiful. He takes a last look over the code, a jumble of interchanging words, symbols, and numerals stacked in layers.
He folds the paper's glyphic edges into a neat assembly, which he colors turquoise with a swipe at the "fill" icon, then wraps the structure in a rendering of an impossible moebius ribbon. It was, he thought, too correct--a perfect, digital replication of the Tiffany's box, a binary simulacrum, containing a Pandora's-worth of virii and trojan horses, emailed to a world of unsuspecting virtual office drones with the subject line "GOOD TIMES."
--"Once Upon a Matrix"
And on and on, and on and on.