The Otherworld (SERRAted Edge, #2-3)

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Ah, but at Purdue I found a cramped, condensed version of Krochs—a store that had an entire bookcase of science fiction and fantasy books, most of them new or at least, new to me releases. It makes me chuckle when something critics of this book whine about how terrible it was that Annie portrayed her heroine Helva as a shell-encased prisoner, pointing out all the wonders of technology that they themselves have at their fingertips, and positing that the shell-people should have been more like Robocop than Helva.

Uh…no, kids. Try some history. The stories were written between and Your watch has more computing power than was used to put a man on the moon. I know. My father was one of the first commercial computer programmers. Computers used vacuum tubes and wires and were the size of city blocks. They were saddled with deadly deformities. They would require full life support for the entirety of their lives. She posited a future where only a corporation or a government that expected to get value for their money would take these infants in and turn them into shell-persons—and in the process, saddle them with so much debt they were virtual slaves.

Oh my, yes, and Annie knew it. Try reading it wit h the slant that The Ship Who Sang foresees a future where medicine is only available to those who pay and it becomes a very different book indeed. Anyway, I loved it why is it that late teens and college kids are so enamored of dystopias? But time passed, and with it came healing, and eventually Annie decided it was time to revisit her Brainships.

Bill Fawcett put together the package; Annie with four junior authors, each of whom would create his or her own shellperson to feature in a new series. And I was flattered, flabbergasted, and incredibly honored when Bill asked me to be one of them.

The Project Gutenberg eBook of Are the Planets Inhabited?, by E. Walter Maunder.

It was a little like being asked to sing a duet with Paul McCartney, so far as I was concerned. Now, I knew a good bit more about the techy stuff than Annie; I was more-or-less stuck with the whole shell-person concept, even though I knew very well that a future that far removed from our own would probably have gotten to the brain-in-a-box point that would allow anyone who chose that route and had the money to have themselves a whole cyborg body built.

I did intend to amend some of those rules as the book went along, however, and Annie graciously—and enthusiastically—allowed me to do so. The first rule I amended was to have my protagonist start out as a normal little girl.

According to canon, only those born with fatal deformities were allowed to be salvaged for the shell program. So Hypatia experiences normal life up to the point where she contracts an alien virus and becomes a quadriplegic. I did this on purpose. Helva never actually knows what human sensation is. Hypatia does, and she misses it, and craves it, and subconsciously that becomes a huge driving force for her through the rest of the book. And like Annie, I was very aware of the dystopian nature of a future that can cheerfully turn children on life support into chattel slaves.

Annie obviously approved of my approach, and we went on that journey together. And what a ride it was! Not the steady blink that meant a recorded message, nor the triple-beat that meant Mum or Dad had left her a note, but the double blink with a pause between each pair that meant there was someone Upstairs, waiting for her to open the channel. Someone Upstairs meant an unscheduled ship—Tia knew very well when all the scheduled visits were; they were on the family calendar and were the first things reported by the AI when they all had breakfast. That made it Important for her to answer, quickly, and not take the time to suit up and run to the dig for Mum or Dad.

It must not have been an emergency, though, or the AI would have interrupted her lesson. She rubbed her eyes to rid them of the dancing variables, and pushed her stool over to the com-console so she could reach all the touch-pads when she stood on it. She would never have been able to reach things sitting in a chair, of course. With brisk efficiency that someone three times her age might have envied, she cleared the board, warmed up the relay, and opened the line. Come in, please. One-hypotenuse, Two-hypotenuse, Three-hypotenuse, Four-hypotenuse.

Now his way happened to lie across a river.


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Scarcely had he got half-way across when he tripped over a stone, tumbled into the water—and there was an end of him. Now, he left a son called Petrusha. One Sunday he went to church to pray to God.

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As he passed along the road a woman was pounding away in front of him. Well, he went to church and then returned home. He walked and walked, and suddenly, goodness knows whence, there appeared before him a fine-looking man, who saluted him and said:. How I will reward you to be sure! With silver and with gold, with everything will I endow you. Having told him all about the road he was to take, the Devil straightway disappeared, and Petrusha returned home.

Next day Petrusha set off on his visit to the Devil. He walked and walked, for three whole days did he walk, and then he reached a great forest, dark and dense—impossible even to see the sky from within it! And in that forest there stood a rich palace. Well, he entered the palace, and a fair maiden caught sight of him. She had been stolen from a certain village by the evil spirit.

Series: SERRAted Edge

And when she caught sight of him she cried:. That horse is your father. When he came out of the kabak drunk, and fell into the water, the devils immediately seized him and made him their hack, and now they use him for fetching wood and water. Presently there appeared the gallant who had invited Petrusha, and began to regale him with all kinds of meat and drink. So the Devil gave him that sorry jade.

Petrusha took it by the bridle and led it away. As soon as he reached the gates there appeared the fair maiden, and asked:. Petrusha took leave of her and went his way. When he came nigh to his village he did everything exactly as the maiden had instructed him. He took off his copper cross, traced a circle three times about the horse, and hung the cross round its neck. And immediately the horse was no longer there, but in its place there stood before Petrusha his own father. The son looked upon the father, burst into tears, and led him to his cottage; and for three days the old man remained without speaking, unable to make use of his tongue.

And after that they lived happily and in all prosperity.

Ship Who Searched, page 1

The old man entirely gave up drinking, and to his very last day never took so much as a single drop of spirits. The Russian peasant is by no means deficient in humor, a fact of which the Skazkas offer abundant evidence. But it is not easy to find stories which can be quoted at full length as illustrations of that humor.

The jokes which form the themes of the Russian facetious tales are for the most part common to all Europe. An unfamiliar joke is but rarely to be discovered in the lower strata of fiction. He who has read the folk-tales of one country only, is apt to attribute to its inhabitants a comic originality to which they can lay no claim. It is only when the joke hinges upon something which is peculiar to a people that it is likely to be found among that people only. But most of the Russian jests turn upon pivots which are familiar to all the world, and have for their themes such common-place topics as the incorrigible folly of man, the inflexible obstinacy of woman.

And in their treatments of these subjects they offer very few novel features. It is strange how far a story of this kind may travel, and yet how little alteration it may undergo. Take, for instance, the skits against women which are so universally popular. He says he has shaved it, his wife declares he has only cut it off. The wife has gone to the seigneur of the village and accused her husband of having found a treasure and kept it for his own use.

Then the moujik immediately dug up his treasure and began living in the best manner possible. There is another story of this class which is worthy of being mentioned, as it illustrates a custom in which the Russians differ from some other peoples.

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A certain man had married a wife who was so capricious that there was no living with her. After trying all sorts of devices her dejected husband at last asked her how she had been brought up, and learnt that she had received an education almost entirely German and French, with scarcely any Russian in it; she had not even been wrapped in swaddling-clothes when a baby, nor swung in a liulka.

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The first is the Russian variant of a story which has a long family tree, with ramifications extending over a great part of the world. Benfey has devoted to it no less than sixteen pages of his introduction to the Panchatantra, [52] tracing it from its original Indian home, and its subsequent abode in Persia, into almost every European land.

Russian Fairy Tales.

A bad wife lived on the worst of terms with her husband, and never paid any attention to what he said. The husband went out, his wife with him. He came to the currant bush, and his wife jumped into it, crying out at the top her voice:. The husband returned home joyfully, and remained there three days; on the fourth day he went to see how things were going on.

Taking a long cord, he let it down into the pit, and out from thence he pulled a little demon.