David Louis Edelman
Geosynchron
'Geosynchron' trade paperback cover

Excerpt: The Prisoners

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Chapter 1

Margaret Surina is rejuvenated.

She hovers wraithlike in the thin membrane between existence and nothingness. Skin the olive tinge of the Indian subcontinent, robe a billowing tent of blue and green, fingers long and precise as praying mantises. Hair tar black but streaked with white, manifestation of the paradox behind those sapphire eyes.

That Natch can see her at all is miracle enough. In this place he has no eyes, no face, no corporeal presence whatsoever. It is a cocoon of pure mind, where there are no points on the compass and where even time loops upon itself and disappears in a dizzying spiral of infinite improbability. Here in this place, Margaret is merely a perception of a perception, like an awareness or a manufactured memory.

Natch wants to ask her, Don’t you realize you’re dead?

He saw the empty husk of her at the top of the Revelation Spire. He stood in the courtyard at Andra Pradesh watching her corpse as the self-appointed guardians of wisdom pontificated about the passing of ages and the withering of flowers and other such nonsense. Yes, Margaret Surina is dead, there can be no doubt about it. Why then does she keep blatantly disregarding her nonexistence? Why does she keep appearing to Natch and intoning words of solemn absurdity?

MultiReal is becoming part of you, Margaret tells him. You’re not just its owner anymore, Natch — you’re the guardian and the keeper. That grating habit of enunciation to the point of ludicrousness, the way she treats each syllable like a wayward child to be nurtured. MultiReal is yours now, Natch. I was foolish to have held on to it for so long. I am not my father. I’m not strong enough to make these decisions. But you… Natch, I picked you for a reason — because you’ll resist Len Borda to your dying breath. You will resist the winter and the void. Understand this — something my father was trying to tell me. The world is new each day, every sunrise a spring and every sunset a winter. I know you’ll understand this. You will stand alone in the end, and you will make the decisions the world demands. The decisions I can’t make. I know this. I know it.

Natch has heard this rant before. It’s what Margaret told him just hours before her demise, sitting in the pinnacle of that cold tower with Quell the Islander at her side, her mind permanently broken. It made no sense to him then, and it makes no sense to him now.

Margaret segues into a new stanza of insanity that Natch doesn’t recognize. Onwards and upwards, she says. That was the dream of Sheldon Surina, my ancestor and the father of bio/logics. Towards Perfection, no matter what the cost. But it was not Sheldon Surina’s fate to pay that cost, any more than it was Marcus Surina’s — any more than it is mine.

Now that fate has fallen to you and you alone, Natch. You are the geosynchron of the human race.

Natch wants to shut out the visage, to banish Margaret back to the elaborate sepulcher where the Surinas laid her, with its gold and pearl and its bas-relief carvings. But Natch has no eyelids in this place, no way of banishing the apparition floating before him. The bodhisattva keeps talking about momentous choices for him to make and earthshaking decisions in his future. But what are they? What does she want from him? How can he decide anything when Margaret won’t tell him what it is he’s supposed to decide?

Go away! he tries to shout. Leave me the fuck alone! I don’t know what you’re talking about, and I don’t want to know. He tries to shout, but he has no voice.

And then the nothingness enfolds Natch in its bosom and he sees no more.

*

Excerpted from “Geosynchron” by David Louis Edelman. Copyright © 2010 by David Louis Edelman. Reprinted by permission of Pyr, an imprint of Prometheus Books. Excerpt licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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