The Pain

In the end it was all down to the slime. The slime extracted from the gall bladder of a very angry space cucumber. This special ingredient was used in the creation of a neural thread that allowed the user to explore the secret pathways of the universe.

Gregory had been metaphorically bashing his head against the walls of reason, trying to come up with a plan to rescue Aiasdotter, when all along what was required was the ability to slip under the surface.

Lady Sarah looked like she had gone several rounds with a Megafraken pit fighter, and that was before Stiletto’s technicians changed her face. It was she who had volunteered to use the slime to penetrate the dark planet of The Hrym.

Like a corrupted Japanese Daimyo listening to the screams of a boiling Dutch cabin boy, The Hrym was carried away by the music coming from Aiasdotter’s cell. He didn’t have to actually be present, because tuned into every nuance of the minutiae of his planet, he was aware of everything.

The Hrym was a connoisseur, and just as the conductor of the Berlin Symphony Orchestra could hear the minutest change in the tone of his lead violinist’s E string, so too, The Hrym felt the minutest of fluctuations in the terror and pain experienced by his erstwhile brilliant and efficient private secretary.

Connected to his neural network, The Hrym linked straight to the cell where Aiasdotter was being kept and tortured.

In the Hrym’s future world the dimensional reality of neural communication and entertainment had come a long way from the 3D cinema and TV back at the beginning of twenty-first Century Earth. It was as if The Hrym was in the cell, and had brought his presence with him.

Sat there in the chair was Aiasdotter, and yet The Hrym knew it was not her. Like the skin of a deep ocean octopus, his supermarket suit and shiny shoes changed from pale blue to a raging crimson colour, as the sensitivity of the neural net picked up the subtle shift that his physical presence would never reveal.

The colour change was a step too far. Haydrift Eaglebeard who had been stood silently in the corner, momentarily lost control. Using an ancient Tibetan meditation technique, he had been holding himself in a stasis of No Thing whilst the switch between Aiasdotter and Lady Sarah had taken place.

Seven and a half seconds were required, and to Sarah strapped to the plastic chair, it seemed like an infinite moment of torment.

Suddenly The Hrym was standing before her, face almost catatonic in its banality, yet his whole presence burning red like Lucifer on a bad day.

And then, that kindly face appeared from the corner and with a few waves of his hand, Sarah’s pain was gone.

Copyright Jhedron Luckspar © 2014 2018


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Slan by AE Van Vogt – Book Review

This is a book I first read over thirty years ago and thought I remembered well enough, but apparently not. I have just reread it and it’s still fantastic.

I was a bit worried when it brought technology in but apart from a woeful underestimation of a rapid travelling space ship, it wasn’t too bad. In 1946 I expect 300mph seemed fast.

The story is set in the future and the Slans of the title are mutated humans that have developed superior physical and intellectual ability and the telepathic ability of reading minds. As such they are hated and feared by humanity who are intent on destroying them. Young nine year old Jommy Cross, the Slan of the story, is quickly orphaned and has to survive in the brutal human world until he can come into his maturity and fulfil his destiny. Pitted against him are the “evil” humans who are mercilessly trying to destroy him and all his kind. Van Vogt’s writing is often beautiful with description which is almost Dickensian. Here’s a quote from early on in the story when Jommy is still a child and has been captured by the utterly evil and self serving Granny.

“It struck him that he had never seen a face that more nearly expressed the malignant character that lay behind the mask of old flesh. With rising disgust he compared her thin, lined, egg-shaped head with the mind inside; and it was all there. Every twisted line in that wrecked face had it’s counterpart in the twisted brain.”

This is a science fiction world written in a pre computer age, so his citizens still read newspapers. Now tablets and kindles are taking over, and I doubt if paper books will survive except on the library shelves of Lord Stiletto. However, it is available in both print and on kindle.

Will Jommy attain his destiny and save the Slan world? A hopefully not forgotten Sci Fi classic that is well deserving of your attention.