Stories for Chip: A Tribute to Samuel R. Delany

Stories for Chip: A Tribute to Samuel R. Delany

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780990319177
Publisher: Rosarium Publishing
Publication date: 08/03/2015
Pages: 350
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author


Nisi Shawl is a writer whose work has been published at Strange Horizons, in Asimov’s SF Magazine, and in anthologies including Dark Faith 2, Dark Matter, The Moment of Change, and The Other Half of the Sky. Her story collection, Filter House, was one of two winners of the 2009 James Tiptree Jr. Award. She is a cofounder of the Carl Brandon Society and serves on the Board of Directors of the Clarion West Writers Workshop. She lives in Seattle. Bill Campbell is the founder of Rosarium Publishing and the author the novels Koontown Killing Kaper, My Booty Novel, and Sunshine Patriots as well as the essay collection, Pop Culture: Politics, Puns, and “Poohbutt” from a Liberal Stay-at-Home Dad. He coedited, with Edward Austin Hall, the groundbreaking anthology Mothership: Tales from Afrofuturism and Beyond. He lives in Washington, DC.

Read an Excerpt

Stories for Chip

A Tribute to Samuel R. Delany


By Nisi Shawl, Bill Campbell

Rosarium Publishing

Copyright © 2015 Rosarium Publishing
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4956-0197-2



CHAPTER 1

Michael Swanwick and Samuel R. Delany at the Joyce Kilmer Service Area, March 2005


Output from a nostalgic, if somewhat misinformed, guydavenport storybot, in the year 2115


Transcribed by Eileen Gunn

Their journey took place in verdant March, when the sun was not yet so high in the sky as to be dangerous. The New Jersey Turnpike was redolent with the scent of magnolias, and the trees in the Joyce Kilmer Service Area were clad in exuberant green. What brought them, the nascent politician and the noted philosopher, to this place, in a vehicle that shed its rich hydrocarbons liberally into the warm, clean air?

The truth was that Michael Swanwick and Samuel R. Delany shared a taste for animal flesh, and had come to this bucolic waystation to satisfy their common need. "I'm a burger kind of guy," said the future ruler of Russia. "So am I," said the white-bearded semiotician, and they chose an imperial meat-patty palace for their repast.

As they stood in line, contemplating a panoply of burgers, fries, and blue raspberry Icee®s and basking in the cool green glow of fluorescent lights, Swanwick was struck with nostalgia for a time long past.

"I miss Howard Johnson's," he said. "Not the food, of course — I miss the orange-roofed temples, celebrated by Jean Shepard as sirens of the highway. Once upon a time, every rest area on the Jersey Turnpike had a Howard Johnson's. 'A landmark for hungry Americans.'"

Though Swanwick had spoken the words, each man, involuntarily, heard the chime of the ghastly jingle. "Funny thing," he continued quickly. "It was capitalism that killed it. Marriott bought it for the real estate."

"Red in tooth and claw," said Delany. "I miss the pistachio ice cream cones, that's all. ... But here," he added in a soothing tone, "here we have trading cards with robots on them." He accepted a trading card from the cashier. It depicted Cappy, a sleekly androgynous silver-metal lover. "I want a different one," he said.

"Have it your way," said the cashier, shrugging. He handed Delany another card, this one featuring Crank, a grubby makeshift robot with rust under his gnawed fingernails.

Delany laughed, a musical sound somewhere between a snort and a giggle. "I'll keep this one," he said. He ordered a beef patty made with real beef, medium rare, topped with horseradish and Béarnaise sauce, kosher dill slices on the side.

"Have it your way," said the cashier again.

"Are you a robot?" asked Swanwick, suddenly concerned. The cashier did not reply.

"I would like a big, sloppy, greasy double cheeseburger with lettuce and tomato and all the trimmings," Swanwick told the cashier. "I want ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, and Russian dressing with beluga caviar. Hold the pickle."

"Caviar is available only at the Walt Whitman Service Area," said the cashier, frowning. "You can't always have every thing your way." He gave Swanwick a trading card depicting Aunt Fanny, a matronly, pink, lipstick-wearing robot with a protuberant posterior. Swanwick accepted it with bemusement, wondering whether Burger King offered the same card in the United Kingdom. "Can I have another, too?" he asked. The cashier handed him a card with a pigtailed Lolita robot on it. "Another?" The third was Madame Gasket, who was a bit scary, frankly, for a trading card. He couldn't get any thing his way.

"Lucky in love, unlucky at cards," said Delany.

"They hand these things out to children?" Swanwick asked, glancing again at Madame Gasket.

They paid for their meals in the devalued currency of the late-period religio-capitalist hegemony, and took their food trays to a small table at a window overlooking the Sunoco station.

"Bon appétit," said Delany, gesturing with his hamburger as one would with a wineglass.

"Priyatnovo appetita," replied Swanwick with a similar gesture. He had recently returned from the Urals, where he had been the toast of Ekaterinburg.

At first they ate in hungry silence, gazing out at the gas station, as languid pump attendants with huge palm-frond fans hailed approaching automobiles and waved them toward available fueling bays as though they were New Jersey's famous zeppelins. Then, having taken the edge off their appetites, the two men continued the conversation they had begun in the car, the one great debate that writers and thinkers everywhere have carried on since writing and thinking first evolved: the debate about the ultimate futility of writing and thinking.

"I'm a cult writer in Russia," said Swanwick, "and I'm a cult writer in the United States. And I'm sick of it."

"Nothing so terrible about being a cult writer," said Delany. "Christianity started out as a cult, and look at it now."

* * *

"I want to make some difference in the world, communicate with the mass of humanity, have an effect." He gestured toward the crowded freeway. "I want to change entire lives for the better."

"Have you thought of a different career?" asked Delany gently. "Perhaps emigration to a land of greater opportunity? You speak some Russian, do you not?"

"Nyemnoshka," Swanwick answered, with a modest shake of his shaggy head. "A smidgeon," he translated.

"Maybe you should consider pulling up stakes, retooling for the new millennium. As a cult writer in the US, you're nothing. You have considerably less effect on how the world fares than a Hollywood screenwriter, which is low indeed in the social hierarchy. But as a cult writer in Russia, you'd have some clout. They are afraid of writers in Russia, and with good reason. You could leverage your celebrity into a political career, take control of that long-suffering country, and change the world. Of course, you could also get killed." He sighed. "It's a sad thing, but nobody kills writers in the U.S. They just don't matter enough."

"I will consider that," said Swanwick, and did. It would not be so difficult for him and his wife to create new lives in another land. She was a public-health scientist, although, when provoked, she sometimes described herself as a career bureaucrat. Russia had jobs in either category; like everyplace else, it needed scientists more, and paid bureaucrats better. And Michael had always enjoyed caviar and sour cream, however difficult they were to obtain on the Jersey Turnpike. It could work.

But, he thought, it was time to get back on the road. They gathered up their things, recycled the trash, slapped on their canvas hats and a heavy layer of sunblock, and hit the road.

They continued north in Swanwick's chartreuse 1959 Thunderbird, past service areas named for the heroes of New Jersey: Allen Ginsberg, Paul Robeson, William Carlos Williams, Frank Sinatra, Bruce Springsteen, Jimmy Hoffa, Yogi Berra, and Jon Bon Jovi. Soon enough, they found themselves at the most intellectually exciting stretch of highway in the United States. Between exits 16E and 13A, the New Jersey Turnpike at that time passed over the Passaic River. The General Casimir Pulaski Skyway, a masterpiece of Depression-era engineering, soared off to one side, crossing the Passaic and Hackensack Rivers in great lattice-work leaps. As the car approached New York City, the primeval Meadowlands swept off on the left, balancing the demands of nature and of solid-waste disposal, and the darkly crystalline rectangles of the Manhattan skyline arose to the right. Gleaming networks of railroad tracks recalled to them the glorious empire, created by commerce and forced labor, that had, until the new century and its disasters, sustained the American Dream. Where the towers had been there was still, in 2005, negative space.

* * *

The car containing the two men sped across the George Washington Bridge and made its way, under Swanwick's instruction, to Delany's residence. Chip Delany, ever hospitable, invited Michael Swanwick to come upstairs and continue their conversation, but Swanwick, by now lost to American literature, made a hasty excuse in mumbled Russian, and disappeared into the gray fog of urban twilight.

CHAPTER 2

Billy Tumult


Nick Harkaway

Billy Tumult, psychic surgeon, with six shooters on his hips, walks into the saloon. There are dancing girls dancing with dancing boys and dancing boys dancing together, and women behind the bar in hats made of feathers. There's a fat man at the piano and a poker game in each corner. Up on the balcony there's some comedic business involving infidelity, but no gunplay, not yet. Billy swaggers over and gets a beer. And make it a cold one, miss, okay? The barkeep leans across the shiny surface and prints a perfect lipstick mark on his cheek. Rein it in a little, cattle hand, she murmurs, you're cute but this here's a civilized sort of establishment.

Yeah, sure, Billy mutters, you can tell by the nice clean bullet holes in the furniture, I bet you dust 'em nightly, and the barkeep actually laughs and says she likes his style. She sounds too much like Chicago, almost a moll, and Billy adjusts the filter a few notches to the left. Doesn't do to mix your conceptual frame during a house call.

I'm lookin' for a man, Billy Tumult says, probably comes over like a gunslinger. New in town, a solitary sort of fella, not much for talking. He'd be my height or more and looking to keep things quiet. Barkeep says she doesn't know nothing about that, maybe talk to the fat man, fat man hears everything, and Billy Tumult knows she's lying and she knows he knows and she blushes: talk to the fat man, and he says okay.

Billy turns his back on the bar and lets his hands fall down by his sides. Six shooters be damned, they're for show and to take care of any ambient hostility, the real weapon is invisible to these good townsfolk, the Neuronoetic Interference Scalpel 3.1.a holstered in the small of his back. He can clear and fire it in under seventy subjective milliseconds, literally faster than thought unless the thought is a really bad one. Patient in this case presents with anhedonia, and that's pretty damn bad.

He looks around at the room, and has to hand it to the guy: these are well-imagined people, and there's a decent ethnic mix. He's pretty sure that cardsharp is supposed to be a Yupik, for example, which may not be authentic — you surely didn't get a lot of Eskimo hustlers in the Old West — but it speaks well of the patient's interior life. Most of Billy's patients are assholes, by definition. Billy has no problem with assholes in the abstract. It is everyone's God-given right to be an asshole, in fact it's basically the default setting and you evolve your way up from there, but that does not mean Billy particularly enjoys spending time in worlds created by assholes, which is his working life. So this guy has problems but is less of an asshole than most and that is acceptable.

Billy walks over to the fat man. Fat man can't see him, surely, not from this angle, but he shifts to a minor key, staccato. Mood music? Billy wonders if he should just flat out erase the guy. Better not. Don't want to be talking to a patient's lawyer about how you came to delete his memory of nine thousand nine hundred hours of music tuition. Never a good scene, there are lawyers and all that but the worst is the crying. Billy hates emotional display, he's a fucking surgeon for crying out loud, not a therapist. You want to break things and scream about your momma you can go see one of those wishy-washy liberals on the East Coast. You want your problem hunted down and shot, you call Billy: mind medicine, open-carry style. Your psychological issue will bleed out and die and you carry right on with your life. It appeals to traditional men with sexual dysfunction, executive types who've suddenly discovered their humanity and want it gone, that kind of thing. Occasionally he does memories for divorce cases and once the State of Alabama had him kill a man's whole history from the present back down the line, leave nothing but the child he'd been before he became a crook. They raised that fella back to manhood inside the system, and he's a productive citizen now, although Billy went back and met him out of sheer curiosity and he's kinduva a jerk, basically a boring-ass wage slave of the dehumanizing statist system. Not Billy's problem, but he doesn't take government work any more. One time they asked him to do espionage. Fucking torture bullshit. Billy said no, turned those fuckers in to the real law, the sheriff's office, made a helluva stink, man from the New York Times came to interview him. Weirdest month of his life, so-clean liberal actresses draping themselves over his arm and whispering sweet nothings in his ear, sweet nothings and some really outré shit Billy was quick to take fullest advantage of because those chances do not come along twice. Weird, but really satisfying, sexually speaking. Got to hand it to the Democrats, they know from orgasms.

Hey, fat man, Billy says, you playing that for me? Fat man shakes his head. No, he says, I play what's on the hymn sheet is all, and sure enough there it is written out. Turn the page, Billy says, give me a preview. Fat man does and growls, it's a fight scene. Brawling or guns? Well, that's kinda hard to tell, you better ask me what you want to know in the next few bars.

Where's the new guy, Billy says. Lotsa new guys in town, fat man replies. No, Billy says, there ain't, there's only one. My height and taller, black hat, solitary fella don't like to make friends. Oh, that new guy, fat man says. That new guy got hisself a room above the hardware store, has Missus Roth bring him food and all. He armed? Billy Tumult asks, and the fat man says that a patron that tough don't go about without some manner of weapon but the fat man don't know what kind.

Fat man turns the page on his hymn sheet and one of the poker tables flies up in the air. Fistfight, bottles flying and you goddam cheating bastard and blahsedyblahs. Dissolve to later.

Billy Tumult, walking down the street. Tips his hat to the ladies, bids the fellas good afternoon. Going to the Marshall's office. Want to be in good with the local force. No stink-of-armpit law-keeper, this one, but a high buttoned pinstripe and waistcoat number, almost a dandy. What are the chances, Billy Tumult growls. Man might could be Billy's brother, might could use him for shaving around that dandy moustache. Patient's been thinking about coming to see Billy Tumult for long enough that he's got hisself a tulpa in here, a little imaginary robot doing what the patient thinks Billy'd do. Ain't that just the sweetest thing?

Marshall William says hello, and Billy says hello right back and they shake hands. It's like icebergs colliding. The Marshall's got two shooters on his hips, of course, just like in the brochure. What's behind his back, Billy wonders, maybe a third gun, maybe a humungous nature of a knife. That would figure. But when they get into the Marshall's office and the fella takes off his coat, mother of Christ, it's a dynamite vest, a bandolier. The guy so much as farts wrong and they're all in the next county over and fuck if he doesn't actually smoke. Laws of sanity have been suspended for Billy's oversold publicity-and-marketing hardassery. Thank God if the thing goes up the worst that happens to Billy is a damn reset and the whole surgery to redo from start, pain in the ass, but if this was the real world or if Billy was really part of this whole deal then he'd be pasta sauce.

Pasta sauce is inauthentic. Billy tweaks the filter again. He prefers the gangster aspect, can't keep this horses-and-mud shit straight in his brain. Well, if the patient can have Eskimos, Billy can have pasta sauce, call it fair play.

I'm Billy Tumult of the Pinkertons, he tells Marshall William, come lookin' for a dangerous man. We got plenty, says the Marshall, which one you want? Or take 'em all, I surely won't miss 'em. I want the new guy, Billy says, the one in the black hat living over the store. The one Missus Roth has an arrangement with. Now hold on, begins the Marshall, no not that kind of arrangement, the feedin' kind is all I mean, I got no beef with the Widow Roth.

Widow my ass, parenthesizes Billy Tumult, if I know how this goes, but never mind that for now.

He's an odd one, sure, says the Marshall. Odd and I don't like him and he don't much like me. But I figure the one he's looking out for is you, now I think on it. He offered me a whole shit-ton of gold, I saw it right there in that room, to tell him if a fella came askin' about him. You say yes? Billy wants to know. No, Marshall replies. 'Course not, he says, and rolls his shoulder.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Stories for Chip by Nisi Shawl, Bill Campbell. Copyright © 2015 Rosarium Publishing. Excerpted by permission of Rosarium Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction Kim Stanley Robinson 13

Michael Swanwick and Samuel R. Delany at the Joyce Kilmer Service Area, March 2005 Eileen Gunn 15

Billy Tumult Nick Harkaway 19

Voice Prints devorah major 29

Delany Encounters: Or, Another Reason Why I Study Race and Racism in Science Fiction Isiah Lavender, III 38

Clarity Anil Menon 51

When Two Swordsmen Meet Ellen Kushner 60

For Sale: Fantasy Coffin (Ababuo Need Not Apply) Chesya Burke 65

Holding Hands with Monsters Haralambi Markov 75

Song for the Asking Carmelo Rafala 83

Kickenders Kit Reed 100

Walking Science Fiction: Samuel Delany and Visionary Fiction Walidah Imarisha 109

Heart of Brass Alex Jennings 115

Empathy Evolving as a Quantum of Eight-Dimensional Perception Claude Lalumière 137

Be Three Jewelle Gomez 143

Guerilla Mural of a Siren's Song Ernest Hogan 154

An Idyll in Erewhyna Hal Duncan 165

Real Mothers, a Faggot Uncle, and the Name of the Father: Samuel R. Delany's Feminist Revisions of the Story of SF L. Timmel Duchamp 175

Nilda Junot Díaz 196

The First Gate of Logic Benjamin Rosenbaum 204

The Master of the Milford Altarpiece Thomas M. Disch 217

River Clap Your Hands Sheree Renée Thomas 231

Haunt-type Experience Roz Clarke 238

Eleven Stations Fábio Fernandes 252

<<Légendaire.>> Kai Ashante Wilson 257

On My First Reading of The Einstein Intersection Michael Swanwick 278

Characters in the Margins of a Lost Notebook Kathryn Cramer 283

Hamlet's Ghost Sighted in Frontenac, KS Vincent Czyz 291

Each Star a Sun to Invisible Planets Tenea D. Johnson 301

Clones Alex Smith 305

The Last Dying Man Geetanjali Dighe 320

Capitalism in the 22nd Century Geoff Ryman 326

Jamaica Ginger Nalo Hopkinson Nisi Shawl 339

Festival Chris Brown 357

Acknowledgments 381

About the Authors 382

About the Editors 390

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