In the Shadow of the Towers: Speculative Fiction in a Post-9/11 World
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Writer and editor Douglas Lain presents a thought-provoking anthology featuring a variety of award-winning and best-selling authors, from Jeff VanderMeer (Annihilation) and Cory Doctorow (Little Brother) to Susan Palwick (Flying in Place) and James Morrow (Towing Jehovah). Touching on themes as wide-ranging as politics, morality, and even heartfelt nostalgia, today’s speculative fiction writers prove that the rubric of the fantastic offers an incomparable view into how we respond to tragedy.
Each contributor, in his or her own way, contemplates the same question:
How can we continue dreaming in the shadow of the towers?
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brother had been a Christian Scientist, he hadn’t really believed in the outside world, and he’d left no real instructions for how to handle the affair of his death. Most of all he’d never indicated just what it was that he wanted her to do with his artworks, or more specifically his films. She imagined calling Peggy Guggenheim, the millionaire heiress, but Betty didn’t really want to talk to anyone who wore sunglasses shaped like television sets while posing for photographs with her toy
to anyone. He’ll be as alone and yet as crowded as a person can be. The wall between him and his wife will be more unbearable than ever. He remembers Peter’s pale, wrinkled, yearning face, and he thinks about making them release the man, put him on a plane somewhere beyond his country’s influence. Thinks about destroying the machine and ending the adept project. Then he’s back in the wretched, glorious sunlight of a real, an ordinary day, and so are all of his reflections and shadows. Mimicking
the space of thirty minutes, and while that stuff can give you the strength to lift cars off your loved ones and leap over tall buildings, the payback’s always a bitch. I woke up to someone pulling the hood off my head. They were neither rough nor careful—just . . . impersonal. Like someone at McDonald’s putting together burgers. The light in the room was so bright I had to squeeze my eyes shut, but slowly I was able to open them to slits, then cracks, then all the way and look around. We were
with a mixture of curiosity and disdain. What did he want? Was it to irritate me further? Did he want to criticize my play some more? I needed to lie down, relax, and get my mind off the flight and onto poker. I was spooked. That terror vision on the plane was something new to me. I didn’t know how it happened or what it meant. “Come out for a drink. The tournament doesn’t start until tomorrow. I’ll buy you a drink,” Mel offered. I shrugged. I didn’t want to carouse. I wanted to lie on the bed
time to pick up. She hadn’t, so either she really wasn’t there and the call had come in earlier or her voice had been a mechanical glitch and she still wasn’t talking to him. Ready to talk to him was the way she put it. He’d wondered if she’d ever be ready. His agent was on speed-dial. She wasn’t. He’d taken her off almost a month ago. Too much temptation, far too easy. His agent said they had a terrific offer for him, cover art for the next six Anne Rice paperback reissues, his agent very