Haikasoru

 

Space Opera. Dark Fantasy. Hard Science.
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EXCERPT [Archive]

Excerpt, Legend of the Galactic Heroes, v9: Upheaval

“Your Majesty, I have every intention of accepting the marshal’s staff from you alive.” Lutz retained his composure as he spoke. He even smiled. “I had the honor of sharing the founding of Your Majesty’s empire. With luck I will also share the ease and flourishing to come.”

Lutz glanced at Müller. The “Iron Wall” nodded, then respectfully took Reinhard by the arm. “We must go, Your Majesty,” he said.

Reinhard’s golden hair shone even more splendidly in the firelight.

“Lutz, when you are no longer able to fire, surrender. Von Reuentahl knows how to treat a hero.”

Lutz saluted, but spoke neither ja nor nein in reply. He watched Reinhard and the others leave, offering a final salute when the kaiser turned back one last time, and then strode unhurriedly into the trees by the path to take cover.

The limits of Lutz’s patience were not tested. Ten seconds later, roughly a platoon’s worth of pursuers turned up. Lutz opened fire.

The pursuers visibly shrank from him. They knew Lutz as a great general, but had never imagined that he was such an accurate marksman.

In just two minutes, Lutz’s blaster felled eight men, half of whom died instantly. Despite the flames and the relentlessly approaching enemies, he remained flawlessly composed. Half-concealed behind a great tree, sometimes even taking the time to brush off the sparks that showered down on him, Lutz held the line grimly. When he heard calls for him to surrender, he unflappably replied, “Surrender! And rob you of the chance to see how a senior admiral of the Lohengramm Dynasty dies? Whether you come with me or not, why not watch and learn?”

Then he extended an arm as unbending as his spirit and pulled the trigger again.

It was as if his own will poured forth from the barrel in streams of pure energy. The pursuers seemed to forgot their numbers—each of them returned fire desperately, as if facing him alone. They dove into the forest to escape his deadly accuracy, only to be chased out again by the flames.

As he loaded his third and final energy capsule into his blaster, Lutz wondered when exactly Brünhild would take off. He felt irritation not for himself but on behalf of Reinhard and the others.

The flames flickered wildly. The red and black and darkness and light that had struggled for supremacy above him was pushed aside by an all-illuminating silver gleam. Looking skyward, Lutz saw a warship that every soldier in the Galactic Empire knew. A great bird of purest white, spreading its wings amid a thicket of energy beams rising uselessly toward it from the planet’s surface. The sight was magnificent.

The transcendental moment passed. Lutz saw a thin beam of white light pierce him beneath his left clavicle, and then felt it emerge from his back just beside his left shoulder blade. Pain exploded from the point of impact, spreading to fill his body. Lutz staggered just half a pace backward, frowned slightly, and brought down two more pursuers with two more pulls of the trigger. He pressed his left hand to the breast of his uniform and felt an unpleasant stickiness. Tiny snakes of a dark, wet color trickled from between his fingers and crawled downward.

Still upright, he once more pulled the trigger, which now felt very heavy. As his target spasmed before a backdrop of flame in a brief dance of death, the left side of Lutz’s skull was pierced by a diagonal blast of return fire. A gout of blood poured from his ear. The flames disappeared from his field of vision, leaving only darkness.

Mein Kaiser . . . I am afraid I cannot make good on that promise to accept the marshal’s rod alive. I shall await my reprimand in Valhalla—but let it not be for some time yet . . .”

GOTH

From the bonus novelette, “Morino’s Souvenir Photo”:

0

tricksmazeThe prohibition of graven images in the Old Testament is more accurately a prohibition against the worship of idols. To avoid this criticism, those who champion the use of icons draw a line between “worship” and “veneration.” Icon venerators declare that icons are not used with the intent to worship the image itself, but rather to call to mind that which the image expresses. The thinking is this: Though the image is to be treated with respect, this respect does not make it the object of worship. In discussion, proponents frequently liken the icon to the image of a loved one. A drawing or a photo of a loved one is not the actual loved one, but the person enduring a separation from their beloved cherishes the image. The assertion is that the sacred icon similarly causes the bearer to recall the existence of God or the saint—or the vestiges thereof—through the image.

1

When I look at photographs for work, I analyze the various bits of information shown in them. I think about composition, shadows, the lens, the way in which these elements are combined, the chemical reaction that occurs, and the deeper impression the photo makes on the viewer. I can’t help but be conscious of the idea of the “symbol.”

The act of taking a photo is one of positioning a symbol into a square frame or one of finding it there. The person with the camera may press the shutter with some vague intention, but in most cases, what they capture is nothing more than a scene of high entropy. Given all the information scattered about in the image, viewers don’t know where to rest their eyes. Thus, the photographer makes sure to control the many disparate elements. They make the illumination brighter or the shadows darker, or they fiddle with the lens and the aperture to blur the background, in line with their own style. Cutting out and framing a piece of the natural world in this way creates all sorts of symbols, symbols which helpfully and clearly tell the viewer what kind of photo they are looking at.

I imagine that words are symbols. As long as a person is alive, they have no choice but to use words to infer the intentions of others. And when a person is producing some kind of work, they have no choice but to rely on these same words. There is something that must not be forgotten: the fact that the symbol itself has no intrinsic meaning. It is not the circle or the square that moves people. These objects are only symbols and have no greater meaning in and of themselves. To have faith in the object is the same as worshipping the image.

In many religions, the worship of images is forbidden. People likely learned this from years of experience. God cannot be drawn or sculpted. The moment it is drawn, it is no longer god; the moment it is sculpted, god becomes a fake. The moment it is expressed, its divinity peels away and recedes from its true nature. Which is why all personages drawn in pictures are a compromise between god and human, like Christ or Mary—you rarely see God, the father of Christ himself, depicted in icons. The sole reason for this is that the expressive possibility for Christ and Mary is as symbols indicating that they themselves are in the presence of God.

A symbol is a fixed concept. However, its true weight is in the context hidden in the gap between symbol and object, the world on the other side of the symbol. Emotion, the ability to move someone, is not a part of the symbol itself. Which is why when I take photos, I do everything I can to eliminate symbolic elements. But there are limits to what I can control, and nothing ever goes the way I expect. What troubles me most is the subject of the photo.

On December 6, I killed a girl.

immagini esercizi palestra

Gene Mapper

Sascha Leifens was subtitled across her chest. So this was the reporter my waitress liked so much.

Sascha shrugged her shoulders and tossed her bobbed red hair as she stepped down. I knew she was an avatar when her hair returned to exactly the same position. Most casters use RealVu to at least give the impression that they’re communicating facts. Not Sascha.

“There you have it. What do you think?” It was the voice from the interview. “The operating system he coded in a trance, while ignoring his responsibilities to society, has an astonishing flaw.”

A large chart appeared above her head with a string of thirty or so ones and zeros along the top. Below the ones and zeros was a date readout: years, months, days, hours, minutes, seconds.

“These are time values for Unix. Look closely. He used a 32-bit integer to express these values to the second, even though he knew very well that Unix would have to be viable for at least decades. The way he coded it, the time value will reach its overflow point next year—at seven seconds past 3:14 a.m., January 19, 2038.”

The time count on the chart rolled toward the overflow point.

Now almost all the numbers were ones. Sascha made a pistol with her thumb and index finger and took aim at the chart.

“Bang!” (more…)

Red Girls

Manyo looked out of place in the village and when she went into town, but the young couple took care of this strange child, occasionally severe, occasionally affectionate with her. They also sent her to school, but for some reason, Manyo could not manage to learn her letters. “I can’t read,” “I can’t write,” she would say; her studies were of no use.

She would instead make strange predictions every now and then. At that time, the Third Jurisdiction Corps of the National Police Reserve (later known as the National Safety Forces), which was cre­ated by MacArthur after the war, was stationed in Izumo in Shimane Prefecture, and each member carried a carbine thanks to a loan from the US military. The corps was basically made up of young people of that generation, born in the area and also coming in from other regions, who had missed out on deployment to the front. The carbine, a mysterious weapon from which fire erupted, naturally terrified the villagers. Even now, the provincial culture of the Edo period lives on in the village. When someone commits a crime, the people rally at the village headman’s house, use spears and nets to catch the criminal, and then turn the offender over to the authorities.

When the young men in their khaki uniforms swaggered into town, clutching their carbines, little, illiterate, dark-skinned Manyo pointed at one of them, and said, “Be bright, scatter.” (more…)


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