It storms for three days but the king is safe. He lies propped on a divan of lustrous, dark damask in an anteroom and looks out on his splendid dining hall with its swags and pilasters. They keep it quiet for him. He is too weak to rise.
The calendar indicates that it is the tail end of this interminable winter. The snow—up to the woman’s iridescent, striped knee socks—blocking her old school’s gym entrance says otherwise. The ritual will have to be held.
After that announcement, she pulled all the government brochures about the teleportation devices out of the mail, leaving the rest for Má and Ba to sort after they came home from work. She spent hours reading them with baby Xuyên in her lap. Even though she didn’t know much English, she knew some words that I hadn’t learned yet, like “liability” and “atomization.”
Radiation, the last breath of unstable atoms, spilled no blood as it passed through flesh and bone, but it was murder on DNA. For humans, DNA damage spelled nausea, headache, cancer, death. Lynn’s genetically engineered diatoms, too small to have organs that would fail, simply died. They fell to the bottoms of their flasks in browning drifts, too toxic to decompose.
If there is already a layer of artifice to you, if already you are pretending, but failing at pretending, why would it matter if someone, or something—I am talking about a BetterYou—pretends to be you, but does a better job at it? Why does that need to be seen as this bad thing or this frightening thing?
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