Highlights for Broken Angels

At the very least, you habitually find yourself in unfamiliar bodies on unfamiliar worlds where people are shooting at you. Even on a good day, no amount of briefing can prepare you for a total change of environment like that, and in the invariably unstable to lethally dangerous sets of circumstances the Envoys have been created to deal with, there just isn’t any point.

Since it is logistically impossible to expect everything, she told us evenly, we will teach you not to expect anything. That way, you will be ready for it.

But really, I’m optimistic. You’d be surprised how many soldiers still find it difficult to shoot small children, even in these troubled times.

Testing the human frame to destruction

Lapinee, a construct vocalist, was designed and launched to front the replacement song, which told the story of a young boy, orphaned in a Kempist sneak raid but then adopted by a kindly corporate bloc and brought up to realise his full potential as a top-level planetary executive.

Maximum utility for ALL resources is our ultimate goal.

Mandrake was the commercial world’s equivalent of Carrera’s Wedge, and you had to assume a corresponding approach to latitudes of initiative at executive levels. There was really no other way for a cutting-edge organism to work.

And like Quell says, rip open the diseased heart of a corporation and what spills out?’


Body armour for the soul.

There’s a virtual version of me in the machine with some psychosurgeon peripherals wired in. I’ll send it in to bring back the best dozen and a half.

‘Look at that, Kovacs. We’re drinking coffee so far from Earth you have to work hard to pick out Sol in the night sky. We were carried here on a wind that blows in a dimension we cannot see or touch. Stored as dreams in the mind of a machine that thinks in a fashion so far in advance of our own brains it might as well carry the name of god. We have been resurrected into bodies not our own, grown in a secret garden outwith the body of any mortal woman. These are the facts of our existence, Kovacs. How, then, are they different, or any less mystical, than the belief that there is another realm where the dead live in the company of beings so far beyond us we must call them gods?’

We don’t need recourse to the places of origin to explain them. I’m just trying to show you how limited your world view is without an acceptance of wonder.

Times change, but market forces are forever. History unreels, the real dead stay that way.

The rest of us get to go on.

She said wars are fought over hormones. Male hormones, largely. It’s not about winning or losing at all, it’s about hormonal discharge.

War has a soothing, simplifying effect on politics that must hit the politicians like a betathanatine rush. You don’t have to balance the issues any more, and you can justify anything. Fight and win, and bring the victory home.

‘Every skill must be practised. Every act rehearsed. A blade is only a blade when it cuts.’

The wisdom of the ages shredded at a stroke into the pipe-cooked musings of a bunch of canal-dive barflies. Lao Tzu, Confucius, Jesus Christ, Muhammed — what did these guys know? Parochial locals, never even been off the planet. Where were they when the Martians were crossing interstellar space.

Face the facts. Then act on them. It’s the only mantra I know, the only doctrine I have to offer you, and it’s harder than you’d think, because I swear humans seem hardwired to do anything but. Face the facts. Don’t pray, don’t wish, don’t buy into centuries-old dogma and dead rhetoric. Don’t give in to your conditioning or your visions or your fucked-up sense of . . . whatever. FACE THE FACTS. THEN act.

He was like all of them. Same intensity, same goddamned fucking conviction that he was right. Just a different dream of what he was right about.


I thought I had come up with the clever portmanteau “komplischwierig”, a combination of “kompliziert” (complicated) and “schwierig” (difficult). Unfortunately a quick Google search showed eight prior results where people have used the word.

The other German neologism I thought I could claim was “Fleischglück” but of course I’m not the first person to come up with that either.

Highlights for Exit West

but that is the way of things, with cities as with life, for one moment we are pottering about our errands as usual and the next we are dying, and our eternally impending ending does not put a stop to our transient beginnings and middles until the instant when it does.

Location, location, location, the realtors say. Geography is destiny, respond the historians.

They had begun, each of them, to be penetrated, but they had not yet kissed.

for he was so gentle, and evoked in her a protective caring, as if for one’s own child, or for a puppy, or for a beautiful memory one knows has already commenced to fade.

and he did not wish to do this, he preferred to abide, in a sense, in the past, for the past offered more to him.

and so by making the promise he demanded she make she was in a sense killing him, but that is the way of things, for when we migrate, we murder from our lives those we leave behind.

who had run from war already, and did not know where next to run, and so were waiting, waiting, like so many others.

Even more than the fighter planes and the tanks these robots, few though they were, and the drones overhead, were frightening, because they suggested an unstoppable efficiency, an inhuman power, and evoked the kind of dread that a small mammal feels before a predator of an altogether different order, like a rodent before a snake.

cutting across divisions of race or language or nation, for what did those divisions matter now in a world full of doors,

The news in those days was full of war and migrants and nativists, and it was full of fracturing too, of regions pulling away from nations, and cities pulling away from hinterlands, and it seemed that as everyone was coming together everyone was also moving apart.

“Millions arrived in our country,” Saeed replied. “When there were wars nearby.”

“That was different. Our country was poor. We didn’t feel we had as much to lose.”

To flee forever is beyond the capacity of most: at some point even a hunted animal will stop, exhausted, and await its fate, if only for a while.

Perhaps they had decided they did not have it in them to do what would have needed to be done, to corral and bloody and where necessary slaughter the migrants, and had determined that some other way would have to be found.

In exchange for their labor in clearing terrain and building infrastructure and assembling dwellings from prefabricated blocks, migrants were promised forty meters and a pipe: a home on forty square meters of land and a connection to all the utilities of modernity.

A mutually agreed time tax had been enacted, such that a portion of the income and toil of those who had recently arrived on the island would go to those who had been there for decades, and this time tax was tapered in both directions, becoming a smaller and smaller sliver as one continued to reside, and then a larger and larger subsidy thereafter.

He was drawn to people from their country, both in the labor camp and online. It seemed to Nadia that the farther they moved from the city of their birth, through space and through time, the more he sought to strengthen his connection to it, tying ropes to the air of an era that for her was unambiguously gone.

But in his devotions was ever more devotion, and towards her it seemed there was ever less.

It seemed to Saeed that the people who advocated this position most strongly, who claimed the rights of nativeness most forcefully, tended to be drawn from the ranks of those with light skin who looked most like the natives of Britain—and as had been the case with many of the natives of Britain, many of these people too seemed stunned by what was happening to their homeland, what had already happened in so brief a period, and some seemed angry as well.

and prayer for him became about being a man, being one of the men, a ritual that connected him to adulthood and to the notion of being a particular sort of man, a gentleman, a gentle man, a man who stood for community and faith and kindness and decency, a man, in other words, like his father. Young men pray for different things, of course, but some young men pray to honor the goodness of the men who raised them, and Saeed was very much a young man of this mold.

and so even though they spoke less and did less together, they saw each other more, although not more often.

Of this, in later years, both were glad, and both would also wonder if this meant that they had made a mistake, that if they had but waited and watched their relationship would have flowered again, and so their memories took on potential, which is of course how our greatest nostalgias are born.

It has been said that depression is a failure to imagine a plausible desirable future for oneself, and, not just in Marin, but in the whole region, in the Bay Area, and in many other places too, places both near and far, the apocalypse appeared to have arrived and yet it was not apocalyptic, which is to say that while the changes were jarring they were not the end, and life went on, and people found things to do and ways to be and people to be with, and plausible desirable futures began to emerge, unimaginable previously, but not unimaginable now, and the result was something not unlike relief.

How this assembly would coexist with other preexisting bodies of government was as yet undecided. It might at first have only a moral authority, but that authority could be substantial, for unlike those other entities for which some humans were not human enough to exercise suffrage, this new assembly would speak from the will of all the people, and in the face of that will, it was hoped, greater justice might be less easily denied.

the lives of cities being far more persistent and more gently cyclical than those of people