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Dustless | Volume 11, Mask [iii]

Published 05 • 03 • 2017

The third of the four volumes in the Mask phase of the novel.

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

Australia | Dustless | Volume 11
Brazil
| Dustless | Volume 11
Canada
| Dustless | Volume 11
France
| Dustless | Volume 11
Germany
| Dustless | Volume 11
India
| Dustless | Volume 11
Italy
| Dustless | Volume 11
Japan
| Dustless | Volume 11
Mexico
| Dustless Volume 11
Netherlands
| Dustless | Volume 11
Spain
| Dustless | Volume 11
UK
| Dustless | Volume 11
US | Dustless | Volume 11

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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It is said, among certain Marks within the ZirCong, that “the universe has already occurred: it has completed its cycle, and returned to the void. Therefore, why hurry in our lives? They ended, long, long ago”.

If it is true, and the book of this world is already complete, how can we know whether we are near the beginning, or the middle, or the end of the text?

Since the rise of the RoMayZine and SurGaKu dynasties, and the retreat of the ZirCong from influence over terrestrial power, TanZo has put away all such theories of completed days and events already concluded. For the TanZo of these present times, it is considered a deviation from the Way to speculate overmuch upon events yet to transpire, or to sacrifice the present to a possible world to come.

Huddled in their great Metallic mansions, though, the houses of the ZirCong, their ancient bloodlines woven by ShoKun, the Mark of the Hatching Egg, do they still cleave to those old, discredited beliefs? And if so, has their power over the dusts of the mind permitted them some sense of a world to come, yet already over? Down what cerebral corridors may they move, inside what rooms may they sit and listen, straining to hear some faint echoes of futurity?

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Dustless | Volume 10 | Mask [ii]

…where things give up the limits of themselves, and become revealed for what they are, the drifting envelopes of dust…

Through an immense arboreal forest, travellers make their way, and the world prepares for a universal festival.

Villages put on their finest shows. The temples are decked with ornaments, banners proclaim the beauty of the sutras, pay homage to a far-off emperor.

The roads become tracks, and the tracks become paths. Paths narrow, and the trees press in. There are only small settlements: there is much wilderness. The prospect of safety dwindles. The chance of misdirection grows.

As in the world, so in the head: one traveller takes off his flesh, enters the vegetable labyrinth of the mind, and wanders in smoke and dreams ethereal palaces, the banks of fertile rivers, the streets of unending cities…

Although form is dust, the way to the Dustless state must be by form. To hold a glance, there must be a face: to look out, one must have eyes.

If the face in the mirror is a mask, what lies behind the skin? If the person inside the mirror is invisible, what is there left to see?



Dustless | Volume 10
is approximately 270 pp./a5

status | published 01 02 2017

Australia | Dustless | Volume 10
Brazil
| Dustless | Volume 10
Canada
| Dustless | Volume 10
France
| Dustless | Volume 10
Germany
| Dustless | Volume 10
India
| Dustless | Volume 10
Italy
| Dustless | Volume 10
Japan
| Dustless | Volume 10
Mexico
| Dustless Volume 10
Netherlands
| Dustless | Volume 10
Spain
| Dustless | Volume 10
UK
| Dustless | Volume 10
US | Dustless | Volume 10

ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number) | B01MUHBCWN

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Where may I find immortal moments?

Dustless | Volume 10 | Mask [ii]

01     •     02     •     2017

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Dustless, Volume 10 cover, by Tom Wilson @ Avent Design

I want to thank Tom for his brilliant design work for Dustless.

The process of composition lasted for years. Composition was the living organism: the novel itself was the shell the organism accumulated through its life. Like a nautilus or a conch, when the living organism ends, and decays away, the shell alone is left to remain on the seabed. Here is the shell: but of such a vast scale that a Titanic might lie inside it, near its lip, the broken vessel a mere speck of angular dust, its keel resting on a plain of mother of pearl. And perhaps, over the years, by a magical process, this shell will continue to expand, until it might mimic a human mind, and be a place you can put the ocean.

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In the House of Long Shadows…

In the Heart of Eternity, on a barren plateau where, since long before the Clouded Era, a high sea has dried, and a ship has slowly turned to crystal

By the Bug Stone, along a road no one travels, each night, a fire shines out from the summit of the lonely watchtower

In a lush meadow outside LuinLibar, in a grass-stained robe, a young lady of the Mark of the Dancing Crane, wearing the Gram of the Blue of a Midnight in Autumn, watches a butterfly emerge from a cocoon: she is motionless, and once the butterfly has flown, the cocoon is empty.

She knows

she can’t fit the butterfly back into the cocoon

She understands everything

In the Sun’s Tears Coffee House in District 8 of Faded Glory

Under the soaring shade of the sacred tower, in the Black Palace — because it is winter, and ritual demands it — the young emperor is fretful. Although he is the Dustless One, and his mind winnows emptiness to refine the void, the Lotus Crown is heavy on his head, and walking alone on the veranda of golden teak, facing the Gardens of the Four Moondials, wearing a coat of white Usurian mink, under icicles long and jagged as the teeth of translucent Shy’aamese dog sharks, shivering, he dreams of summer and the emerging of butterflies

Enter the Building where everything is contained…

And walk without deviation through the world of dust

a desert of atoms in the palm of your hand

sands enough to bury an ocean

Be no one | Be strong | Vanished, with no rest

Be utterly serene

Be Dustless

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