"When I went back the first thing I got into was a library of books. Every one you took off the shelf turned into a show, with charts and pictures, but when I figured out that it was all business stuff about how to manage your money, I got bored.
Then I went into a dungeon. It started with a wizard growing me up from a bug. We were in his workshop, which was all full of jars and cobwebs. He had a face like a melted candle and he talked as much as Fearing. There were bats flying around.
'You must resume the quest of Kroyd' he said to me and started touching me with his stick. I could see my arms and legs, but they weren’t wearing the scaper suit. They were covered with muscles. When the wizard touched me I got a sword and a shield. 'These are your companions, Rip and Batter,' said the wizard. 'They will obey you and protect you. You must never betray them for any other. That was Kroyd’s mistake.'
'Okay,' I said.
The wizard sent me into the dungeon and Rip and Batter talked to me. They told me what to do. They sounded a lot like the wizard.
We met a Wormlion. That’s what Rip and Batter called it. It had a head full of worms with little faces and Rip and Batter said to kill it, which wasn’t hard. The head exploded and all the worms started running away into the stones of the floor like water.
Then we met a woman in sexy clothes who was holding a sword and shield too. Hers were loaded with jewels and looked a lot nicer than Rip and Batter. This was Kroyd’s mistake, anyone could see that. Only I figured Kroyd wasn’t here and I was, and so maybe his mistake was one I wanted to make too.
Rip and Batter started screaming when I traded with the woman, and then she put them on and we fought. When she killed me I was back in the doorway to the wizard’s room, where I first ran in, bug-sized. This time I went the other way, back to the drawers.
Which is when I met the snowman.”
- How We Got in Town and Out Again by Jonathan Lethem
"Sonja’ was in her apartment, lying in a foam couch with a visor over her head. The visor delivered compressed bursts of stimuli to her visual cortex: the other sense perceptions riding piggyback on the visual, triggering a whole complex of neuronal groups; tricking her mind/brain into believing the world of the dream was out there. The brain works like a computer. You cannot ‘see’ a hippopotamus, until your system has retrieved the ‘hippopotamus’ template from memory, and checked it against the incoming. Where does the ‘real’ exist? In a sense this world was as real as the other … But the thought of ‘Lessingham’s’ unknown body disturbed her. If he was too poor to lease good equipment, he might be lying in the clinic now in a grungy public cubicle … cathetered, and so forth: the sordid details." - Red Sonja and Lessingham in Dreamland by Gwyneth Jones
“‘I was told this is a very dangerous area,’ Kitty muttered.
'It's not dangerous,' Mabel told her.
'No. They're all too broke to be dangerous. This is just a kind of social breathing space. The whole urban infrastructure's dreadfully overplanned here in Chattanooga. There's been too much money here too long. There's been no room for spontaneity. It was choking the life out of the city. That's why everyone was secretly overjoyed when the rioters set fire to these three floors.'
Mabel shrugged. ‘The insurance took care of the damage. First the looters came in. Then there were a few hideouts for kids and crooks and illegal aliens. Then the permanent squats got set up. Then the artist’s studios, and the semilegal workshops and redlight places. Then the quaint little coffeehouses, then the bakeries. Pretty soon the offices of professionals will be filtering in, and they’ll restore the water and the wiring. Once that happens, the real-estate prices will kick in big-time, and the whole zone will transmute right back into gentryville. It happens all the time.’
Mabel waved her arm at the door. ‘If you knew anything about modern urban geography, you’d see this kind of, uh, spontaneous urban renewal happening all over the place. As long as you’ve got naive young people with plenty of energy who can be suckered into living inside rotten, hazardous dumps for nothing, in exchange for imagining that they’re free from oversight, then it all works out just great in the long run.’" - Bicycle Repairman by Bruce Sterling
Excerpt from “Bicycle Repairman” by Bruce Sterling
"[Lyle’s mom asked] ‘Are you still taking those injections, Lyle?’
She frowned. ‘You know which ones.’
Lyle shrugged. ‘The treatments are perfectly safe. They’re a lot safer than a lifestyle of cruising for dates, that’s for sure.’
'Especially dates with the kind of girls who live down there in the riot zone, I suppose.' His mother winced. 'I had some hopes when you took up with that nice bike-racer girl. Brigitte, wasn't it? Whatever happened to her?'
Lyle shook his head. ‘Someone with your gender and background oughta understand how important the treatments are, Mom. It’s a basic reproductive-freedom issue. Antilibidinals give you real freedom, freedom from the urge to reproduce. You should be glad I’m not sexually involved.’
'I don't mind that you're not involved, Lyle, it's just that it seems like a real cheat that you're not even interested.'
'But, Mom, nobody's interested in me, either. Nobody. No woman is banging at my door to have sex with a self-employed fanatical dropout bike mechanic who lives in a slum. If that ever happens, you'll be the first to know.'
Lyle grinned cheerfully into the lens. ‘I had girlfriends back when I was in racing. I’ve been there, Mom. I’ve done that. Unless you’re coked to the gills with hormones, sex is a major waste of your time and attention. Sexual Deliberation is the greatest civil-liberties movement of modern times.’
'That's really weird, Lyle. It's just not natural.'
'Mom, forgive me, but you're not the one to talk about natural, okay? You grew me from a zygote when you were fifty-five.' He shrugged. 'I'm too busy for romance now. I just want to learn about bikes.'”
"Back when he’d lived with his mom up on Floor 41, Lyle had used old-fashioned antiseptic deodorants. Lyle had wised up about a lot of things once he’d escaped his mom’s condo. Nowadays, Lyle used a gel roll-on of skin-friendly bacteria that greedily devoured human sweat and exuded as their metabolic by-product a pleasantly harmless reek rather like ripe bananas. Life was a lot easier when you came to proper terms with your microscopic flora." - Bicycle Repairman by Bruce Sterling