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Symbiography

Symbiography

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Published by OpenRoadMedia
Symbiography, a novella by William Hjortsberg which is a very interesting look at a postapocalyptic America, in which a solitary man crafts the world’s latest form of escapism: dreams. (A man's dreams are bestsellers, but the world in which he lives is filled with savage nomads.) Perfect for fans of Bradbury and the like, with a little bit of Inception and Minority Report crossover.
Symbiography, a novella by William Hjortsberg which is a very interesting look at a postapocalyptic America, in which a solitary man crafts the world’s latest form of escapism: dreams. (A man's dreams are bestsellers, but the world in which he lives is filled with savage nomads.) Perfect for fans of Bradbury and the like, with a little bit of Inception and Minority Report crossover.

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Published by: OpenRoadMedia on Jun 07, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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09/29/2013

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SYMBIOGRAPHYBy William Hjorstberg
PAR SONDAK’S HOUSE was set on automatic. Beyond the garden,concealed sensory-indicators probed the waiting night. All rooms butone were disconnected until morning, windows and doors sealed, air-conditioners silent; deep in the sub-basement, the accumulator and power-distributor idled. Only Sondak’s soundproof studio remainedactive. There, in the padded, ovoid chamber, Par Sondak slept; hisswollen, pink body curled, knees drawn almost to his chest, his thumbin his mouth.Adjoining the egg-shaped studio hummed a unit housing theencephalograph probes, high-density recorders, mode storage banks,duplication and mix-machinery; the tools of the trade. While theDreamer slept, folded like an embryo, a circuited crown of receptorsand transmitters banded his smooth, unwrinkled brow. This equipmentcaptured and preserved the subtle essence of his art.The dream was standard Sondak escape adventure: swordplay, a cutrose, distant hoofbeats on a moonlit road, the awesome stillness of thescaffold. Attention to detail made all of Sondak’s dreams memorable;his feeling for place and period was unlike any other Dreamer’s.Sondak’s career was in its eighty-fifth year and over three-hundred of his dreams remained in public circulation.Far at the bottom of the hill, among the disorder and rot hidden fromthe Dreamer’s machine-tooled house by the opulence of his gardens, astarved mongrel prowled, sniffing the debris left by encamping Nomads. There wasn’t much, for the Nomads were themselves avidscavengers, and the dog found nothing of interest among the charredgarbage and broken glass; even discarded bones had been gnawed tosplinters by the eager rats.The dog continued up the hill, favoring an injured forepaw,ignorant of the warning implied by the orderly cultivation and the
 
 
watching infra-red eyes ahead. A hidden sensor relayed the intruder’s presence back to the house; the computer plotted the exact location;twin antennae revolved on the turreted roof, focusing a disc-mountedsound-intensifier. The dog lifted his head to catch a final scent as thehigh-frequency beam found its target. In an instant, the animal’s bloodtemperature rose to the boiling-point and, before he could fall, heerupted from within, consumed by a burst of incandescent flame whichleft his canine imprint briefly hanging in the evening air, a chalky driftof ashes and smoke like shreds of fog dissolving.In the morning it was raining. The kitchen switched on at six. Withinthe hour, the rest of the house came alive and by the time Par Sondak was eased awake electronically, the place was purring like a spaceship.Smoothly, the sides of the studio slid open and Sondak steppeddown, padding across the thermal-turf mat which covered his bedroomfloor like a carpet of insulated moss. The mirrored walls reflected thelurching sag of his fatman’s amble; sounds of breaking waves issuedfrom a dozen surrounding speakers. Although his house was located athousand miles from any sea, Sondak found the rushing murmur of surf soothing in the early morning.The bath was contoured to the folds of his massive body and whilechurning, scented water swirled and sensitive vibrators kneaded hismottled flesh, the extended nozzle of an air-compression inoculator  blasted painlessly through the tallow of his suet-soft buttock, givinghim the minimum-daily-requirement; the complete prescription of vitamins, enzymes, hormones and energizers which kept him ploddingthrough another day.Par Sondak was one-hundred-and-five years old and in the best of health. Indeed, he had never been sick a day of his life. His outwardappearance was that of a chubby, middle-aged infant, due mainly to histotal baldness, a condition resulting from nearly a century of wearingthe probes to bed each night. “Bald as a Dreamer,” was the standardcliché. Par Sondak punched the code-numbers for breakfast and waited.“Good morning, sir,” his computer said. “Did you sleep well?”“I hope so.” Sondak yawned. “What’s the weather been like?”

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