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Published by OpenRoadMedia
Symbiography is 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.
Symbiography is 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.

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Published by: OpenRoadMedia on Jun 12, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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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 thewatching 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 bedroom

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