A front page excerpt

Stuffed Head

Stuffed Head

The Vrekli had charged him a small fortune for the gene-tailored symbiotes, and it had taken weeks for him to get used to the squirming feeling in his nasal passages, but it was worth it to be at long last rid of the allergies that had made his life a misery since childhood. The tiny slime worms reliably devoured every speck of pollen, every fragment of dust-mite, every molecule of each airborne allergen that had plagued him in the past, before they could cause the vestige of a reaction.

What he shouldn’t have done was to spring for the recreational-hallucinogen nanobot inhaler on Chur’r. There seemed to be a struggle for supremacy going on inside his sinuses—some kind of hierarchical dispute—and even though he was zoned to the gills, he had now been sneezing nonstop for at least two hours. The spasms were simultaneously a delightful metaphor for a pervasive sense of oneness with the universe, and absolutely unbearable.

from the notebooks of F. J. Bergmann


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The Dream Diary of Monk Anchin – Felicity Drake

I went to the museum’s special exhibition on Seitokuji Temple alone, as was my habit. In the corner, there was a glass case full of portraits of the temple’s famous poets.

The last portrait made me stop to take a second look. Unlike the other monks, this one was gazing directly out at the viewer. His face was painted in the standard Yamato-e style, just lines for the eyes and a hook for the nose, but there was something strangely expressive about the minimalist painting: a slight tension in the angle of his eyes, one hand holding a brush in midair, as if hesitating.

The bald little monk stared up at me out of his portrait, as if he were trying to speak to me. The plaque beneath the painting read:

Monk Anchin (1244-1316)

Collection of Seitokuji, 14th century, artist unknown

There was no background or architectural detail in the plain portrait, but there was a lit candle-stand beside him, a common pictorial convention for depicting nighttime. Why would the artist take pains to portray Anchin, unlike the other poets, writing by candlelight?

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