So this week I’m reading Three Moments of an Explosion, a collection of short stories by one of my favorite writers, China Miéville:
China Miéville is responsible for creating slake-moths, the primary antagonists in Perdido Street Station, which start as little cocoons and grow into one of the most horrific monsters in any book I’ve ever read. And Perdido Street Station isn’t even a horror novel. (Well, it’s not only a horror novel, anyway.) How bad are slake-moths? They’re so bad that when the mayor of Bas-Lag, the city being terrorized by the slake-moths, tries to get the Ambassador of Hell (Hell has an embassy in Bas-Lag; just go with it) to send up some demonic armies to deal with the problem, the demons refuse to get involved, no matter how many souls the mayor promises them, because they’re that afraid of the slake-moths. With good reason.
But anyway, this Teaser Tuesday isn’t about Perdido Street Station. It’s about Three Moments of an Explosion. To wit, from the short story “The 9th Technique”. This story takes place in a diner, of all places, where people go to trade in war-zone artifacts that have become imbued with powers as a result of how they were used.
Actions of unpersoning, and positions, deprivations, and the waterboard. Quite stuffed with fret, that last one. That was the locus of attention, in and beyond the mainstream. Abomination from one perspective, it was advertising copy from another. Koning could never have afforded that cloth, that first soaked cloth. It was, she understood, still wet all these years on from that first questioning. It could now do all manner of things towels wet or not had no business being able to do.
Hmm … Not exactly the towel from the Hitchhiker’s Guide, is it? But of course she’s not buying the towel. What she is buying is, in fact, a caterpillar. I hope it doesn’t hatch into a slake-moth.
Meanwhile, speaking of … ehh, I can’t come up with a segue for that one. So I’ll just cut straight to the teaser from the current page I’m editing in Father’s Books:
When he came around the bend, she stepped forward and swept the club at his head, swinging for the fences. He raised his arm to deflect the full force of the blow away from his face. She thought she heard a bone break, but it might have been the wood cracking as it hit him in the side of the skull. He lost his footing and went sprawling sideways across the pebbly stream bed. She would have hit him again but her makeshift weapon was suddenly smaller and lighter and much less menacing, having snapped off a few inches above her hands.
Ah, breakage. That’s the trouble with makeshift weapons made of wood. You know what you really need in this kind of situation? A towel.