Saturday, June 16, 2007

It's Always Nice to Breathe

Skye's skin suit was a royal blue so hot it glowed. It covered every inch of her body, from the toes up, snugging around her like the smooth, thick hide of some water creature. The hood dangled in neat pleats behind her neck. With gloved hands, she reached back and grabbed it, pulling it up and over her short, wispy brown hair, then down across her face. The fabric became clear where it arched over her eyes. Like a living thing squirming into its proper posture, it bent again, to form a stubby muzzle over her nose and mouth. Then it sealed itself at her neckline, the fabric of the hood knitting with the fabric of the suit, so that the seams vanished.

For two seconds there was no fresh air to breath. Then the suit's Dull Intelligence — a machine mind that was fast and functional but not truly self-aware like a human being — spoke to her in its soft, feminine voice, "Activating respiratory function."

Well, it was always nice to breathe.

From Skye Object 3270a by Linda Nagata.

Linda Nagata, writes interesting science fiction novels. She draws comparisons to Bruce Sterling and Neal Stephenson. Her novels, Vast, Tech-Heaven, The Bohr Maker, Deception Well, Memory, work at the edge of extrapolated science out where science becomes nearly indistinguishable from magic and the results are often marvelous and strange strange. (I remember in particular the pilot of an interstellar ship who had his memory of the previous couple of hours wiped every couple of hours so that the task of piloting a starship over long periods of time would not bore him to insensibility. Wouldn't that be handy?)

She's offering her YA novel online, as a PDF download for $5.00. I'm watching with interest both because I like her fiction, and because I'm curious to see what kind of response she gets. She's got the first chapter available for reading. It’s a young-adult novel, aimed at an advanced middle school audience.


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