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Authors: David Louis Edelman

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Infoquake

BOOK: Infoquake
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I NFOQUAKE

D A V I D
LOUIS
EDELMAN

I NFOQUAKE
V O L U M E I O F T H E J U M P 225 T R I L O G Y

an imprint of Prometheus Books
Amherst, NY

Published 2006 by Pyre", an imprint of Prometheus Books Infoquake. Copyright O 2006 by David Louis Edelman. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, digital, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, or conveyed via the Internet or a Web site without prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. Inquiries should be addressed to Pyr 59 John Glenn Drive Amherst, New York 14228-2197 VOICE: 716-691-0133, ext. 207 FAX: 716-564-2711 WWW.PYRSF.COM

1 0 0 9 0 8 0 7 0 6 5 432 1 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Edelman, David Louis. Infoquake / David Louis Edelman. p. cm.

Printed in the United States of America on acid-free paper

TABLE OF
CONTENTS

1. number one on primo's 000

2. the shortest initiation 000

3. the phoenix project 000

4. the surina/natch multireal fiefcorp 000

5. demons of the aether 000

APPENDICES

a. glossary of terms 000

b. historical timeline 000

c. on the science of bio/logics 000

d. on the surinas 000

e. on the multi network 000

f. on the fiefcorp system 000

The product of an engineer is technically at a higher pitch of
perfection than a product of nature.

-Karel Capek, R. U.R.

i
NUMBER ONE
ON PRIMO'S

Natch was impatient.

He strode around the room with hands clasped behind his back
and head bowed forward, like a crazed robot stuck on infinite loop.
Around and around, back and forth, from the couch to the door to the
window, and then back again.

Behind him, the window was tuned to some frantic cityscape that
Jara didn't recognize. Buildings huddled together at crooked angles
like the teeth of old men, as tube trains probed the cavities. Singapore,
maybe? Sao Paulo? Definitely a terran city, Jara decided. Every few
minutes, Natch would look in that direction and inhale deeply, as if
trying to draw energy from the thousands of manic pedestrians
ensconced within the four corners of the window canvas.

Natch stopped suddenly and wheeled on his apprentice. "Why are
you just sitting there?" he cried, punctuating the question with a snap
of his fingers.

Jara gestured to the empty spot next to her on the couch. "I'm
waiting for Horvil to show up so we can get this over with."

"Where is Horvil?" said Natch. "I told him to be here an hour ago.
No, an hour and a half ago. Can't that lazy bastard learn to keep a calendar?" Around and around, back and forth.

Jara regarded her employer in silence. She supposed that Natch
would be devilishly handsome to anyone who didn't know he was completely insane. That casually athletic physique, the boyish face that
would never know gray, those eyes predictably blue as sapphires:
people like Natch just didn't exist on this side of the camera lens. Nor
did they spout phrases like trouncing the competition and creating a new
paradigm without a trace of irony or self-consciousness.

Natch shook his head. "I can only hope he remembers we've got a product launch tomorrow."

"I don't know why you're so uptight," said Jara. "We do twenty or
thirty product launches every year."

"No," hissed Natch. "Not like this one."

Jara let it go. As usual, she had no idea what Natch was talking
about. NiteFocus 48 was a routine upgrade that fixed a number of
minor coding inconsistencies but introduced no new features. The program had an established track record in the marketplace, built on the
well-known optical expertise of the Natch Personal Programming
Fiefcorp. Unless Natch expected them to rework the rules of bio/logic
programming overnight-and she wouldn't put that past him-the
NiteFocus product launch would be a pretty routine affair.

"Listen," said Jara. "Why don't you let Horvil sleep for another
hour? He was up all night tinkering on this thing. He probably just
got to bed. Don't forget that out here, it's seven o'clock in the
morning." Here was London: a sane place, a city of right angles. The
city where both Horvil and Jara lived, and some six thousand kilometers away.

"I don't fucking care," Natch snorted. "I haven't gotten any sleep
tonight, and I didn't get any yesterday either."

"Might I remind you that I was up all night working on NiteFocus
too."

"I still don't care. Go wake him up."

For the third time that week, Jara considered quitting. He always
had this condescension, this mania-no, lust-for perfection. How difficult would it be to find a job at another fiefcorp? She had fifteen years
in this business, almost three times as much experience as Natch. Certainly PulCorp or Billy Sterno or even Lucas Sentinel would take her
on board. Or, dare she think it, the Patel Brothers? But then she considered the three agonizing years she had spent as Natch's apprentice,
and the scant eleven months to go before her contract expired. Eleven
months to go until I can cash out! I should be able to keep it together that long.

So Jara didn't quit. Instead, she gave her fiefcorp master one last
bitter look and cut her multi connection. True to form, Natch had
already turned his back on her, probably heading into his office to do
more fine-tuning on NiteFocus. You need to watch yourself Jara thought.
Natch's brand of insanity just might be contagious.

She slid into nothingness.

The hollow sensation of a mind devoid of sensory input. Those blessed
two and a half seconds of free time after one multi connection ends, but
before the next begins. Emptiness, blankness.

Multivoid.

Then consciousness.

Jara was back in London, but not at Horvil's place, as she had
expected. Horvil must have refused her multi request, so the system
had automatically stopped the feed of sensory information flowing
through her neural cortex. She stood now on the red square tile that
was her apartment's gateway to the multi network, staring at the walls
she had never had time to decorate.

Jara's apartment insulted her with its desolation: a featureless
space, a human storage chamber. She resisted the urge to blow off
Natch's little summit and go shopping on the Data Sea for wall hangings. Eleven months, eleven months, eleven months, Jara told herself. And
then I can cash out and start my own business and it won't matter. In the meantime, I'd better wake up Horvil.

If Horvil wasn't answering her multi requests, he was either asleep
or ignoring her. The engineer was not known for being an early riser.
In Horvil's parlance, early meant any time before noon, and to a global
professional who hopped continents with barely a thought, noon was a
slippery concept. Jara gritted her teeth and called up ConfidentialWhisper 66, the program de rigeur for remote conversation. If Horvil wouldn't see her, maybe he would at least talk to her.

The engineer accepted the connection-solid evidence he was, at
least, awake.

Jara waited impatiently for an acknowledgement, a response, something. "Well?" she complained. "Are you coming over to Natch's apartment or what?"

Jara heard a number of fake stretching and groaning noises from
Horvil's end of the connection. ConfidentialWhisper was strictly a
mental communication program, not an oral one. "I could pretend I'm
still asleep," said the engineer.

"If I have to be at this idiotic meeting, Horv, then you're not getting out of it."

"Tell me again why he wants to hold a meeting this early in the
morning."

"Come on, you know how it works. Apprentice in a fiefcorp, work
on the master's time."

"But what's this all about?"

Jara sighed. "I have no idea. Probably another one of his stupid
schemes to take over the world. Whatever he's up to, it can't be good."

"Of course it can't be good," said Horvil. "This is Natch we're talking
about. I ever tell you about the time in school when Natch tried to form
a corporation? Can't you just picture him trying to explain laissez-faire
capitalism to a bunch of nine-year-old hive kids-"

"Horvil, I'm waiting."

The engineer sounded unconcerned. "I'm tired. Call Merri. Call
Vigal."

"They're not invited."

"Why not? They're part of this company too, aren't they?"

The question had occurred to Jara as well. "Maybe Natch trusts us
more than he trusts them."

Horvil chuckled and made a sound like he was spitting out pillow
lint. "Right, sure. Maybe he knows we're too cowardly to stand up to him." And before Jara had a chance to respond, the engineer cut the
'Whisper connection, leaving her alone with her empty walls.

How dare he call me a coward! she fumed silently. I'm not afraid of
Natch. I'm just practical, that's all. I know I only have to put up with him
for eleven more months. She called up her apprenticeship contract for the
thousandth time and reread the clause on compensation, hoping as
always to catch a glimpse of some previously unknown loophole. But
the letters floating before her eyes hadn't changed: Jara would receive
nothing except room and board until the end of the four-year term, at
which time her shares matured. She blinked hard, and the illusory text
on the surface of her retinas vanished.

BOOK: Infoquake
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