MURDER IN THE SOLID STATE
AbeBooks Seller Since December 30, 1997Quantity Available: 1
AbeBooks Seller Since December 30, 1997Quantity Available: 1
About this Item
Title: MURDER IN THE SOLID STATE
Publisher: Tor., NY:
Publication Date: 1996
Signed: Signed by Author(s)
Edition: 1st edition.
About this title
In a novel about the ways in which nanotechnology can bring freedom for the individual or control of the individual by others, a man in twenty-first-century America fights to save his life, career, and country.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
It was the sort of night in which careers were built or broken, in which connections were made that, with the ponderous inexorability of scientific advancement, would alter the course of human affairs It was the sort of night David Sanger would kill for. The hum of the elevator seemed to echo his own nervous energy, his anticipation of the reception that waited below.
A bunch of old farts puffing and posturing at each other, Marian had warned when he'd tried to invite her along. My theory is better than your theory, blah, blah, blah. She'd spoken in the deep mock-masculine tone she reserved for satirizing academics in general and, when she felt he needed it, David himself in particular. Molecular fabrication is important, he'd countered some what irately You could cover it for the Bulletin. Your readers should know more about what we're doing. But she'd just laughed at that, and launched into a dry narration of what she thought such an article might sound like.
Annoyed at the memory, David glared across the elevator car at his own face, reflected back at him through the ripply burnished brass of the doors. Dummy He knew the excitement of his work, felt it fresh every morning as he pedaled to the U of Phil campus, his mind snapping and buzzing with solutions to the problems of the previous day But he could not express this feeling to Marian, and after two years of staccato romance he should know better than to try.
Have a nice time, she'd said by way of mollification. And stay away from Vandegroot, hey?
Easy for her to say Big Otto's grudge was like a force of nature, everywhere at once and impossible to quell. Henry Chong, David's faculty sponsor, would of course shield him as best he could, but David did not like the dependence that implied.
The floor indicator, counting slowly but steadily downward, floated above the reflection of his face--green holographic numerals that stood out from the wall, hovering above the door with an inch or two of air between them and the gloss-black projector plate. Something was not quite right with the numbers; solid-looking and yet less substantial than mist, they jarred the eye, like the view through someone else's glasses. Immature technology, David thought, rushed to production for the luxury markets He shrugged Costume jewelry for buildings, a tiny and irrelevant victory of glitz over substance David thought of himself as a substance man, willing to let the little victories go.
Presently, the floor indicator clicked down to 04, and then to 03. His stomach began to feel a little heavier as the car slowed. His eyes studied the green, misfocused letters for a moment, at once drawn and repelled by their strangeness. He considered himself well informed even outside the narrow discipline of molecular fabrication, and yet he had not known that synthetic holography had progressed so far, that real-world applications like this existed.
So much news every day, so much crime and unemployment, so many protests and plane crashes and little countries going to war, so much damn stuff going on, you had to filter it if you ever wanted to leave the house. But how to pick and choose? In what ways might the world be changing, behind his back? The question troubled him for half a moment, but then the floor indicator went to LOBBY and a chime rang out, quietly startling in this close and quiet chamber.
The brass doors slid open with lazy grandeur, and, like Dorothy stepping from her dichromatic Kansas porch to the Technicolor vistas of Oz, David left the elevator and strode out into the cavernous spaces of the lobby. White ceilings high above him, skylights alternating with haute couture fixtures that cast warm rays all around Marble pillars held it up, brass-shod at their bases. The black-and-red carpet sank beneath his feet like a paving layer of marshmallow.
Dodging potted ferns and knots of well-dressed strangers, David made his way to the entrance of the grand ballroom, some fifty paces distant He walked for once without hurry, taking in the view he had earlier ignored This was a far cry from his normal accommodations, and he didn't mind taking a moment or two just to appreciate it. He reached the ballroom.
The line at the security detectors was not long; David had come down a little early, both to beat the rush and to quell his own restlessness He'd been to AMFRI conferences before, but this time around he had patents to brag about, papers to present, colleagues and contacts with whom to rub elbows. This time around he was no mere observer. He also had Vandegroot, the Sniffer King, to worry about, yes, but this did little to dampen his enthusiasm.
Half a dozen people were cycled efficiently through the security system ahead of him, each taking no more than a few seconds. Then his turn came, and he stepped through the doorwaylike frame and into the short false-wood tunnel of the detector itself. Feeling, as always, the prickly and entirely hallucinatory sensation of "being scanned." In fact, in the soft fluorescent light the detector was harmlessly and invisibly flashing his body with radio waves, imaging it magnetically and positronically, sniffing it for traces of suspicious chemicals. Using a Vandegroot Molecular Sniffer for this task, of course, and all the more humiliating for that.
Like Big Otto himself, the machine seemed more interested in impugning your background than protecting your safety; it sniffed not only for explosives and tear gas and gunpowder residue, but for a broad range of other chemicals, from drugs to machine oils to smuggled perfumes, and what in God's name did that have to do with the security of an AMFRI reception?
His eye caught something in the dim light, and he turned to see a graffito scribbled low on one wall, in bright orange ink. A drawing, a deadly accurate caricature of Otto Vandegroot, roly-poly and with grossly enlarged nostrils and a caption beneath: you are being sniffed. please bend over.
A wave of snickering swept David's discomfort aside. Whoever had done this had chutzpah for sure, and judging by the freshness of the ink, he or she was an AMFRI scientist, and not long gone. Still snickering, and wishing he could have done the deed himself, David shook his head and stepped out of the detector.
He was greeted, almost immediately, by giants.
Copyright © 1996 by Wil McCarthy
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