Hot Shot.

You do understand: It has to be your choice.

They never stopped telling me I was free to leave. They told me while they were still wrangling asteroids out past Mars; they told me as they chewed through those rocks like steel termites, bored out caverns and tunnels, layered in forests and holds and life-support systems rated for a longer operational lifespan than the sun itself. They really laid it on after that L2 fiasco, when the singularity imploded during final testing. Not a whisper of cancelling the project — even though the magic upon which the hole thing rested had just eaten half the factory floor and a quarter of the propulsion team — but in the wake of that tragedy they seemed to think it especially important to remind me of the exits.

It’s your decision. No one can make it for you.

They drove it home even when I laughed in their faces. I didn’t have to point out the obvious: that I’d been trained and tweaked since before I’d even been born, that they’d groomed my parents as carefully as they were grooming me. Thirty years before I was even conceived, I was already bound for the stars.

Knowing all that doesn’t change anything, of course. I can’t take my eyes off infinity. I want the stars, I want to revel and thrill to the glorious endless isolation of deep space. No other aspiration has ever been worth a moment’s thought. So what if I was built that way? It’s what I feel; I don’t know any other way to be.

Still. We’re a civilized society, yes? You don’t draft people against their will, even if the very concept has been a laughingstock for the better part of a century now. They give me no end of opportunity to back out now because there will be no opportunity to back out later, and later covers so very much more time for regrets. Once Eriophora sails, there will be no coming back.

It has to be my decision. It’s the only way they won’t have blood on their hands.

Still, when they held open that mutual escape hatch one last time, I don’t think they were expecting the answer they got.

“Yeah, maybe,” I said. “Give me a month. I’ll get back to you.”

This entry was written by Peter Watts , posted on Thursday December 12 2013at 04:12 pm , filed under fiblet . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

17 Responses to “Hot Shot.”

  1. Stop teasing us!

    No wait, keep teasing us!

  2. Please tell me you’re writing a book about the wormhole-layers.

    PS:
    >the magic upon which the hole thing rested had just eaten half the factory floor

    Should that be whole?

  3. New fiblets! More tastiness.

    @paul: Dunno mate. Maybe that was deliberate. It’s certainly descriptive…

  4. Lol! So much for programming.

  5. Yummy. Yummy food for thought.

  6. Presumably
    “I can’t take my eyes off infinity. I want the stars, I want to revel and thrill to the glorious endless isolation of deep space”
    is a response protagonist was bred for.
    “Hello infinity cat, I am a brain-subverted mouse!”

    ( ;

  7. Are you expanding on the universe you presented in “The Island”? If you are I gotta say I am liking what I see!

    Man, I really need to get around to donating to you… Keep up the good work and expect a donation soon!

  8. Are you expanding on “The Island” universe? If so I can’t wait to see more like this!

  9. First person, as shorts (such as “The Island”) sometimes are, but normally not Wattsian novels. Hm.


  10. You do understand: It has to be your choice.

    I can’t decide whether it’s meant to be a formula piously mouthed to ward off charges of social engineering or something to do with hypocrisy.

    Also:

    There’s this comics called Oglaf, which is so wonderfully bizarre I have to post a link here..

    http://oglaf.com/vorpalblade/ (goes on for eight more pages)

  11. We are ready

  12. paul,

    A malapropism.

    How appropriate in this context.

  13. Eriophora. Implies spinning “webs” or orbs. Sounding more and more like “The Island” building the “subway tunnels” type work.

  14. The wait for the new material is unbearably delicious Peter. Love these little teases.

  15. Do it again!!!!! I only feel alive when you do that. MOOOAAAAARRRRRRRRRRR PLEEZ, oh god I want more Wattage!!!

    P.S. gonna by your new book as soon as I can find it.

  16. Beauty. :)

  17. Locus/Wolfe BtR review reprinted in Chicago Tribune.