Archives for category: sci fi

Dustless | Volume 6 | Fire House
New worlds are being born all the time. These are young worlds, and young worlds, like young children, grow.

Old worlds await them. Into the old worlds, these young worlds rise.

If worlds are made of dust alone, like people they must age and die, and their dust blow into the wind, and fall away.

Must all growing be dying? Must all the young age, and all youth only fall away?

If there was something more than dust — greater than the dust, higher than the dust — would that mean a life that could keep growing, and not die? An ageless life, forever open, never closed?

Is there a life beyond the dust?


Into an old world, a young child travels, further and further, from the edge of a great empire slowly towards the centre.

And the edge, abandoned by the centre, withers in the freezing depths of a northern winter.

Dereliction and negligence: immense distances, isolated settlements where people survive or flee, and little more.

The law has retreated, the teachings of the book become confused, His Majesty no longer shelters and protects his subjects, no great clan orders and guards the struggling villagers of the Endless Plains.

To a dying world, what can a growing child bring?

From a world of dust, may a Dustless vision rise?

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Dustless | Volume 5 | The Dwellings [ii]

The sun is hot, and the fields are wide.
I walk, head bowed, towards my village.
The path is hard, the earth is dry.
There is dust on the road, but no horses.
I am thirsty, but the well is far away.
The plains stretch on towards the horizon,
where my way goes.
This is all there is –
and all there is, they say,
fits in a hawk’s eye.

All places, it is said among the Pure, are places of TanZo. Yet, if you are not Pure, what might you think of a place?

For a civilised person, the Endless Plains are famously empty. The air is polluted, the climate extreme – ferociously hot in summer, gnawingly cold in winter.

A civilised person, in a civilised place, may enjoy many aspects of life, but for those condemned for a time to dwell in the Endless Plains, life may well dwindle down to one master wish, a single, essential aim: survival.

A RoMayZine general once looked down at the pitiful remnants of a barbarian force, taken prisoner near the BisMarian Mountains. “They have survived – but what has survived?” he said.

“A human being plots a course between the animals and the angels”, an old ZirCong philosopher once said. And in a SurGaKu amendment: “A human being is a contract between an animal and an angel”.

What might happen, should that ‘contract’ be broken? What might a human being then become?

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Dustless | Volume 4 | The Dwellings [i]
It is natural, when embarked upon an arduous journey, to wish for shelter, to seek dwellings. And it is also natural, when circumstances within a particular dwelling place prove too much to bear, to wish to move on, to embark upon a journey, even if that journey should prove to be an arduous one.

The land wants nothing of us, it is only the land. Rocks seek no destiny, thorn trees ask no future, but simply adhere to the natural laws of thorns and earth, winds and water.

Upon a barren road, in the north and east of the empire, three travellers face the challenge of the wintry land. Here, shelter is hard to come by. The tanzo is unyielding. This is a place where space and time have settled, where space eats up the days, and the years dine on the endless plain.

For a poor human being, there seems no escape: it is a place the body must be, and suffer.

What does it avail a traveller upon such a road, to wish and to dream and to question? Is it that, faced with the bitter cold and the hostile earth, the delicate things of dreams and wishes and questions might give some form of shelter? And that questions and dreams and wishes may be the very things to help the traveller survive? Or do they merely lead further into delusion, back to the bones of the hands and the feet and the skull?

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When they finally get here — if there is a “they”, and if there is a “here” —

But I’m not in the mood for graves today.

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Unless all is known, nothing is known

For those who toil among the dusts, vision is clouded: the world is a complex thing, without end, without beginning, a maze of thoughts and senses. Many do not even recognise their own state, or see that they are things of vapour, their lives scattered in a drift of atoms, prey to the accidents of flesh, illusion and time.

Others, though, realising the limits of their perceptions, and grasping the darkness of their condition, set out upon the Way – the TanZo. These ones seek illumination, entering the Still Building of their minds, undergoing the beautiful, arduous training of the wise, taught by skilled monks, bonded by the Marks and clans.

This is a serious matter, not without danger. Of those who enter the Building, not all return, for it is an infinite place, layered with worlds: disaster can lie there. Some return, having failed to reach the desired state; and, disappointed, set their lives back to the old rot and game, or settle for a compromised existence – these ones are like barbarians, and have little to concern us. Some succeed in part, achieving a kind of illumination, to live in harmony and tranquility, their minds light and their spirits at ease.

Yet, what do they really know, these ones, who are considered pure? Have they actually escaped all the confusions of the days of floating and dreaming? Are they truly fit to bow before His Majesty, the emperor of all the cantons, the Dustless One himself? Who can say? For creatures made of dust, what does it mean, to achieve “the state beyond all states”? What might you see, in the darkness of the Still Building, if you are illuminated? What does it mean, to become Dustless?

‘Yes, and the dreams were strange. They were unprecedented, unstoppable, recurring. They happened with a vividness that was a shock to consciousness. The light in them was phenomenally sharp, the clarity of every detail super-defined, colours rich, shadows etched, the whole beyond nature. Their content was gruesome, and yet fascinating. They were disturbing! Night after night, as the summer wore on, I dreamed these dreams. And slowly, I realised two things that made them so perplexing. The first, and lesser thing, was that the same dream appeared to happen each night. The same events occurred: the same conclusion. And so eventually it seemed to me that I was dreaming the same dream. Not, you understand, different versions of the same dream, but the same dream. It was as if the dream went on, and I revisited it. The dream was like a river: it flowed on, and I visited its banks nightly. I came and went, but not the dream. The dream was real and permanent, but I was unreal, and temporary…

This was troubling enough. But then the second and most disturbing thing about these dreams suddenly struck me – and once it had, I could not shake my mind free of the sense of the truth of it. It was not that the dreams themselves were so disturbing – although they were – it was that they were not my dreams. Ugh! Even now, I shake a little at it – I, Igangsogun dex:rikoji, prince of this world! – I do admit, though no longer do I suffer from them… I was dreaming someone else’s dreams


from The Governor of the Desolate Cantons | Dustless | Volume 14

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Dustless | Volume 11, Mask [iii]

Published 05 • 03 • 2017

Precis | In a village huddled on the Endless Plains, through a long night, on the eve of a great festival, villagers keep their vigil. To pass the time, they distract themselves with stories and games.

Terrible forces may assemble in quiet places. In the intricate designs on cards, strange figures emerge. Creations of an ancient culture, no longer understood, but long revered: forces from the depths of ages, stirring, causing shadows and ripples on Time’s surface.

Gazing into the world of a mysterious system, playing with the fire of unknown powers, the villagers entertain a masked guest. But who is he? And what may be seen should the mask fall off?



Dustless | Volume 11
is approximately 290 pp./a5

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ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number) | B06XFGWPMM

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Heavier than a thousand suns, lighter than a protium atom…

Slowly, slowly climbing the stairs in the vegetable palace of the King of Dreams, winding and winding gradually higher…

On the Siloso, the circular river, where the Lord my father standing at the rail of a fragile cruiser, among the crowds of craft, is a swan among gulls…

In a garden in the pleasure district of Shigoga, where I drew my sword and fought the famous duel of bubbles: those girls in their sumptuous robes giggling and sniggering, heads rocking and eyes blinking, lush and retarded, spirits sunken and sluggish as they float on the stream of the prince’s soul-stealing intoxicants

To arrive in a room in the Ghosts-of-Angels Palace, to look through the window on the chamber where snow is eternally falling from an invisible ceiling, and where, it is rumoured, sometimes a hunter may be seen, sometimes a lord wandering lost in winter

To the children with their little books, to the limited ones with their little dreams: left

We moved on through the crow-haunted wastes of the Desolate Cantons, met a warrior with nose broken in his youth, half an angel and half a boxer, smoked his pipe of raw kaziah, left us all to the sleep of the doomed

Heavier than a falling moon, lighter than a single feather, a feather floating from the iridescent wing of a jester hummingbird purring among the sulphur-throated blossoms of dark orange night-scenting hibiscus

In the scales, the throne of O, set against a single finger’s caress

To be in the regal state beyond the laws

What would you choose?

To be everyone and no one

To be there to feel her touch, to be

so softly undressed

To be high

To be fine

To be Dustless

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It was like a sun rising.

From behind the sun in the east, a second sun — a sun rising at night.

Most people didn’t wake: they slept through that strange double sunrise. Perhaps they opened their eyes, briefly, felt the shadows in the room twist for a moment, but then they sank back into sleep: it was too hard to wake, they were tired, they needed to rest, and besides, they felt sure they knew what the next day would bring.

And for them, it was true, the day brought what they expected.

You have to be lucky to witness a miracle: lucky to open your eyes at the right time, to be in the place the miracle begins. To keep your eyes open as the change develops. To follow the flow of the shadows, and track down the source of the light.

The next day, when the sun rose in the east, there came no second sun. And most people went on with their lives, aware only that, during the previous night, there had been a faint shift in things, like a settling of cargo in a ship’s hold — a slight settling, but still, one the crew couldn’t quite understand.

Such tiny tremors. The brief kick of a foot inside a womb.

The ripple a tadpole makes as it crosses a pond.

Most people went on, that next day, just as they’d been before.

A few people, though, had woken up: they’d seen the hidden sun, rising at night — seen the ordinary moon blotted out by an alien dazzle. They sensed the arrival. They recognised the change.

Now there is a stranger among them. And because of this stranger, they, too, become strangers.

Like a new sun, a greater sun — like a sunrise at noon, blotting out the lesser light of the old sun.

Like old thoughts — old, small thoughts — when a brilliant new thought rises.

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It’s written against the times. Against the easy, easy times.

It moves slowly, it’s like the land beneath our feet, the ground itself.

It’s not going to go away, it accumulates gradually, like mountains.

It’s not about destinations, it’s not about journeys. It’s greater than that, and more humble. It’s not about conquest, not about mastery; it’s not about moments, or years; it’s not about you.

It’s not straightforward, but, importantly, it’s not facile. It’s not about the end. There are no maps to it, and it possesses no exterior. It isn’t an object. It isn’t a riddle. It isn’t about winning, or losing. It isn’t about knowing, or finding, or being lost.

It will change you, certainly – but then, what doesn’t change you?

It’s like anything you take up and put down: it returns to itself, and waits.

It’s banal, and modest: a sprinkling of salt on a few green leaves, the light of the setting sun on a line of plane trees in early summer – the shadows your fingers make as you turn a page, the landscape passing as you sleep on a suburban train…

It’s simple, and it waits, serene and alien as a deserted lake: it’s now, it’s here, it’s gone…

It’s Dustless.

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