Since There Still Seems to be Some Confusion Over the Title…

EchocompThey’d arrived at what had once been some kind of air-traffic hub: a low-slung control shack whose walls and roof came together in a wraparound band of soot-stained windows angled at the sky. Two dead helicopters and a one-winged jump jet littered a scorched expanse of tarmac and landing bullseyes, barely visible beneath the scoring. The nozzles of retracted fuel lines poked through the deck here and there; one burned fitfully, a monstrous candle or a fuse set to detonate whatever reservoir fed the flame. In the middle of it all, bodies moved.

The bodies were human. Their movements were anything but.

Moore waved the others back against the shack, spared a backward glance and a raised hand: Stay here. Brüks nodded. Moore slipped around the corner and disappeared.

A swirling gust blew sparks and acrid smoke into Brüks’s face. He suppressed a cough, eyes stinging, and squinted through the haze. Human, yes. Two, maybe three, near the edge of one of the bullseyes. Gray coveralls, blue uniform, insignia impossible to make out from this distance.

They were dancing.

At least, that was the closest word Brüks could summon to describe the tableaux: movements both inhumanly precise and inhumanly fast, humanoid simulacra engaged in some somatic call-and-response unlike anything he’d ever seen. There was a lead, but it kept changing; there were steps, but they never seemed to repeat. It was ballet, it was semaphore, it was some kind of conversation that engaged every part of the body except the tongue. It was utterly silent but for the machine-gun staccato of boots on the deck, faint and intermittent through the soft roar of the wind and the crackling of the flames.

And faintly familiar, somehow.

Moore ended it all with a blow to the back of the head. One moment the dancing marionettes were alone on the stage; the next the Colonel had materialized from the smoke, his hand already blurring toward the target. The gray-clad dancer jerked and thrashed and collapsed twitching onto the deck, a disconnected puppet gone suddenly grand mal; the other threw himself down at the same instant, although Moore hadn’t touched him. He lay twisting beside his fallen partner, still in frantic clockwork motion but only twitching now, amplitude reined in to complement these new and unexpected steps brought so suddenly into the routine.

“Echopraxia echofuckingpraxia,” Sengupta hissed at his shoulder.

Moore was back. “This way.”

A broken door gaped around the corner. Inside, brain-dead smart paint sparked and sizzled along those few control surfaces that hadn’t already been put to the flame.

Brüks glanced over his shoulder. “What about—”

“They’re in a feedback loop. We don’t have to worry until the mechanic comes back.” A companionway gaped from the far bulkhead. A fallen cabinet blocked the way. Moore pushed it aside.

“Isn’t that bad for them?” Brüks wondered, and immediately felt like an idiot. “I mean, wouldn’t it be better if we broke the loop? Split them up?”

Moore paused at the top of the stairs. “Best-case scenario, they’d do as well as you would if someone split you down the middle.”

“Oh.” After a moment: “Worst-case?”

“They wake up,” Moore said, “And come after us.”

This entry was written by Peter Watts , posted on Thursday December 19 2013at 09:12 am , filed under Dumbspeech, fiblet . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

20 Responses to “Since There Still Seems to be Some Confusion Over the Title…”

  1. Can’t wait!

    Is that a Sparth (Nic Bouvier) cover?

  2. Aw, s’it! Entangled zombies.

  3. speaking of the things from blindsight -> interesting development in crypto-> http://www.cs.tau.ac.il/~tromer/acoustic/ the author Shamir is the S in RSA encryption.

  4. Still next August for a release date?

  5. Fookin’ brilliant, as always. Somehow I suspect sales will be good, he said with intentional tones of understatement.

  6. Brian Prince,

    Peter indicated that it’s by a gentleman named Richard Anderson. See here:

    http://www.rifters.com/crawl/?p=4430

    http://www.flaptrapsart.com/

  7. This is great, spooky writing. I am not sure how much it illuminates the name. Ah… praxia, from praxis, activity; so the neologism is parallel to dyspraxia? Echoing behaviour? Something’s radically fucked with their minds?

  8. @ Gary Flood:

    To do, I think with:

    http://www.rifters.com/crawl/?s=mirror+neurons

  9. I approve of beating up dancing people on principle.

  10. Thanks Ken.

    Surprisingly never encountered this dude’s work before.

  11. @Nestor: Twerking zombies, most def.

  12. Embarrassingly:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Echopraxia

  13. Brian Prince,

    My pleasure, Brian.

    Anderson’s style is very similar to Sparth – I can see your confusion.

    That being said, I’m noticing many artists are adopting this same style (originating with John Berkey in the 70s, one might argue). I suspect that many of these images are produced digitally, and the advent of better tools like the Wacom Cintiq are giving artists more freedom to explore the medium in the same way as they would with a traditional brush and canvas.

  14. I wonder how long twerking zombies would last. Dancing is quite energy intensive activity.

  15. Conversion of unnecessary parts into food? Kind of explains the whole corpsey thing.

    In the mostly off-topic sometimes-Watts-nails-it realm, more news on H5N1 data:

    http://www.rifters.com/crawl/?p=2703

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/untrue-statements-anger-over-work-to-make-h5n1-birdflu-virus-more-dangerous-to-humans-9018666.html

  16. Steve Halter:
    Still next August for a release date?

    Still August.

  17. Some scifi/horror Festivus cheer to our host and all his e-parasites:

    http://lolsnaps.com/news/86177/0/

    https://i.4cdn.org/tv/src/1387911212481.jpg

  18. Great, can’t wait. But waiting could be less painful if Starfish e-books were officially available somewhere. I can see Blindsight kindle version, but no Starfish. Am I missing something?

  19. Don’t think so. Offhand I don’t even know if Tor has the e-rights to Starfish (they basically grabbed everything else up on that title — my own fault for being a dumb neophyte with an overly trusting nature). And I object to Kindle on general principles, just because of the kind of intrusive censorship that the scumbags at Amazon practice with such impunity.

    If you don’t mind old-school pdfs or doc files, you can always download my stuff for free from this very very website. Just click on the backlist link.

  20. Regarding stupid head colds and threads that close before I read them (see end of previous)…

    Store owner dude shoved a bottle of peppermint oil in my hands back in October when I was coughing near his merchandise. Two drops in a palm, rub palms together, breathe. Clear lungs in seconds. Nasal cavity, too, but takes longer if congested. Amazing how well it works. Quicker than anything I’ve ever tried. Down side, only lasts about 20-45 minutes, but at two drops, a small bottle of the stuff lasts a very long time. Warning: do not get in eyes.

    I’ve actually taken to (carefully) rubbing some on tongue, upper lip to remain hands free while breathing the fumes. Reduces Inflammation, though at first you’ll think it’s worse as the gunk comes loose and out.

    Available at stores that sell essential oils. Am told lavender is helpful as well, though I don’t know.