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"If you think with your emotions, slight glandular changes are sufficient to revise your entire outlook."

— Brian Aldiss

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Thursday, November 10th, 2005

NaNoWriMo Update: I'm at 6000 words so far, very far behind. I hope to make up for it this weekend. I probably won't catch up this weekend, but I hope I will. Below, the next excerpt...

    A wall shuddered, cracks developed and chips flew, then a great oval chunk shot forth as a boot burst through. The boot drew back and kicked again, again, until there was a hole large enough for a crouching man. A stocky figure wriggled through, gray dust frosting his ringleted hair and deep brown skin, and working its way deeply into his clothes.

    Harsp stood and studied the hole while dusting off his hair. His arm muscles were strong and well defined, but a pot belly betrayed a love of cheap hacker food. He looked ruefully down at his Mark Changel tour shirt, marred by plastery dust, and started to work out a catalytic formula to remove it without damaging the shirt... He caught himself, and refocused on the present task. He took off the shirt and tossed it through the hole onto a computer chair, dislodging a bag of junk food. Turning, he studied the main problem again.

    He had added another room to his house, building up the walls from extrusium using foam catalyst in a 12 percent mix designed to mimic drywall. He would follow that up with an external spray with a concrete catalyst mix, but there was no hurry on that - the rainy season wouldn't start for at least another week, and his addition had already stood up to a grand thunderstorm yesterday... In fact, the storm, whipping up bits of extrusium and hurling them across the landscape with an electric charge, had already partly reinforced the unfinished exterior with a pebble-like stucco. Did he really need the inner walls to be so soft? He had hardly ever driven a nail to hang anything; gluing a hook to the extrusium would work just as well and be more practical.

    He had built this new room around his newly contstructed laser lathe, and now found that the most logical placement for the lathe was going to overlap the area he had reserved for the door to the rest of his workshop. But relocating the door meant displacing equipment on the other side of the wall... At present, Harsp had a server rack standing homeless in the middle of the work room's floor, and had kicked through an opening to see exactly where he stood. He judged the placement to be adequate, and took up a nearby extrusium cutter to widen the hole into a rectangle with neater edges.

    His servers the nucleus of Eio's only Internet Provider were impeccably configured and updated, his eye for detail in electronics was superb, his engineering projects were meticulous and well planned, with the result that he had little time to attend to his house... He would tear it all down at some point and begin anew. It had begun as a simple box with a slanted roof, and he had added a new room whenever it seemed called for, and none of the inconveniences of an inelegant dwelling seemed worth the trouble of interrupting everything to redo it from scratch. He had once chided Leiske for putting so much effort into her own dwelling at first she had slept in one of Caiaphas's original huts for over three months, and called constantly upon Harsp for advice and aid but the end result was irreproachable; Leiske's dwelling was both perfectly functional for her needs and aesthetically pleasing; it resembled a ringed planet from one angle, a cathedral from another, and there were likely other points of symbolism that she had worked in and not told him about. He would have to fly over it at some point and see what he could spot.

    Two and a half weeks had passed since the tentative date Leiske had given for her return. Harsp hoped that nothing had happened to her, but he knew that if something had, he would never find out what. Leiske's version of earth was technically open to him, but he would have a hard time making his way alone there with no identity... the idea was even slightly distasteful. People who traveled InterD did so to reach Eio, not to find some version of earth that was just enough unlike yours to make you uncomfortable, the same planet in a slightly different wrapper of civilization. And as a single engineer with no grants and no corporate resources, you could accomplish more in a month on Eio than in a lifetime on any earth...

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