From the science fiction novel Antarctica, by Kim Stanley Robinson.
After Ta Shu had left the office they sat in silence for awhile, looking down at their papers. Somewhat irritably Sylvia said, 'All right, I didn't read all of his file. But what in the world are they doing sending down a geomancer?'
'Giving him a chance to meditate on his own,' Alan suggested.
Sylvia stared at him, and he raised both his hands in defence: 'This guy's famous, really. He's broadcasting this trip back to a big audience in China. And he's been down here before in the Woo programme, about fifteen years ago. His name was Wu Li then. He's the one that wrote that book of really short poems?'
'That's this same man?' Sylvia had seen the book, one of those volumes that lay on Crary lounge's coffee table for years at a time. People said the book's author had come down as a very long-winded poet, a kind of Chinese Walt Whitmnan, but after his visit to the ice had a gone silent, and this little chapbook published many years later had been the only poetry ever published by him again. About forty pages of poems, if you could call them that, all of them four words long; things like
Sylvia, swamped by her massive daily influx of NSF paperwork, had always liked the brevity of these things.
'After that book he took up feng shui,' Alan said. 'He travels around the world and meditates in places to, you know, grasp their essence. He uses all the old Chinese methods, but apparently he's into modern science as well.. A kind of quantum mechanical feng shui. We at Crary are very interested.
'Oh come on.'
'No, he's very big, I'm telling you. He's feng shuied half the skyscrapers in east Asia. His fibrevideo audience for this trip will be huge.'
'So I suppose millions of people just saw me tell him not to go off and meditate in the field when that is the essence of his art.'
'In 3-D,' Joyce added.
Sylvia pursed her lips. She had tried on a TV facemask for the first time just the previous year, and she had found the three dimensional effect quite distinct, although somewhat shimmery and planar - quite beautiful, actually. Apparently people were trying various computer enhancements to render the images crystalline or kaleidoscoped or van Goughed or Rembrandted, whatever. No doubt many of Ta Shu's audience would be surfing these effects, trying a little of everything. Antarctica as Cezanne, or Seurat or Maxfield Parish, with Ta Shu's voice-over narration.
'I don't think he was wearing his video glasses,' Alan reassured her.
Sylvia paged through his file. He was sixty one years old. 'Does it seem to any of you the Woos have been getting stranger and stranger?'
Reproduced with kind permission from Kim Stanley Robinson and HarperCollins
Kim Stanley Robinson was born in 1952 and, after travelling and working around the world, has now settled in his beloved California. He is widely regarded as the finest science fiction writer working today, noted as much for the verisimilitude of his characters as the meticulously researched hard science basis of his work. He has won just about every major sf award there is to win and is the author of the massively successful and lavishly praised Mars series.
|© 2011 Icetrek Expeditions|