Here's another excerpt of new fiction from me. Not Hild this time, but the first 450 words of my new novelette, "It Takes Two," coming out next month in Eclipse 3, edited by Jonathan Strahan. I'm posting it as part of the Outer Alliance Pride Day.
It began, as these things often do, at a bar--a long dark piece of mahogany along one wall of Seattle's Queen City Grill polished by age and more than a few chins. The music was winding down. Richard and Cody (whose real name was Candice, though no one she had met since high school knew it) lived on different coasts, but tonight was the third time this year they had been drinking together. Cody was staring at the shadows gathering in the corners of the bar and trying not to think about her impersonal hotel room. She thought instead about the fact that in the last six months she had seen Richard more often than some of her friends in San Francisco, and that she would probably see him yet again in a few weeks when their respective companies bid on the Atlanta contract.
She said, "You ever wonder what it would be like to have, you know, a normal type job, where you get up on Monday and drive to work, and do the same thing Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday, every week, except when you take a vacation?"
"You forgot Friday."
"What?" They had started on mojitos, escalated through James Bonds, and were now on a tequila-shooter-with-draft-chaser glide path.
"I said, you forgot Friday. Monday, Tuesday--"
"Right," Cody said. "Right. Too many fucking details. But did you ever wonder? About a normal life?" An actual life, in one city, with actual friends.
Richard was silent long enough for Cody to lever herself around on the bar stool and look at him. He was playing with his empty glass. "I just took a job," he said. "A no-travel job."
"Ah, shit." She remembered how they met, just after the first dotcom crash, at a graduate conference on synergies of bio-mechanics and expert decision-making software architecture or some such crap, which which was wild because he started out in cognitive psychology and she in applied mathematics. But computers were the alien glue that made all kinds of odd limbs stick together and work in ways never intended by nature. Like Frankenstein's monster, he had said when she mentioned it, and she had bought him a drink, because he got it. They ran into each other at a similar conference two months later, then again at some industry junket not long after they'd both joined social media startups. The pattern repeated itself, until, by the time they were both pitching venture capitalists at trade shows, they managed to get past the required cool, the distancing irony, and began to email each other beforehand to arrange dinners, drinks, tickets to the game. They were young, good-looking, and very, very smart. Even better, they had absolutely no romantic interest in each other.
I'd post more but my contract wouldn't support that. So if you want to read the rest (and it's juicy stuff--sex, love, biochemistry), go pre-order the book. (Right now it costs about $10. A steal for the stellar lineup--writers such as Karen Joy Fowler, Pat Cadigan, and Ellen Kushner.) And if you like the taste (I think my story voice is pretty different to my novel voice, but you be the judge), go read a whole story, for free, here.
If you're a writer or reader of queer f/sf, or if you want to be an ally of those who are, go join the alliance. Go RT today's Twitter posts (#outeralliance). Go help.