The passages from Moira Crone’s The Not Yet that inspired this collaboration:
1. Very Old Mice
Mice that should have had a life span of 36 months were living twelve years. His discoveries were based upon the work of many before him. He relied upon metabolic manipulation studies that went back thirty years and more—the simple observation that animals on a low caloric intake lived longer. In the 1980’s, starting with a combination of therapies involving his original “cellular rinse” procedure, endocrine manipulations and nano level monitoring and feedback, Albers initially developed a method of periodic holistic treatments that could be regulated to postpone the onset of age-related conditions virtually forever.
2. New Orleans Islands
“It had been two and a half years since I’d seen the city and at that time, the Sky Rail system had still been working reasonably well. Now it was half-submerged. The Y-shaped supports for the cables were poking up from the waters like deformed, yellow trees. Seagulls and brown pelicans were perched on every artificial branch. We passed what was left of the station platform and saw two bulb-shaped gondolas lying on their sides on it—humongous, rusted onions, the gray blue sea slapping at their hulls.”
A mile or so inside, we came upon our first occupied house, and then our second, then a row of five. These were really just the tops of old two-and three-story houses—they were Outliar compounds. No Enclaves here. I made out the rotting, fan-shaped attic windows of the tall Victorians, the humps of the camelbacks. It looked as if the occupants had moved into the upper rooms, and turned eaves into living space, former upper balconies into front porches, abandoned the flooded lower floors, and managed to seal them off. Ringed by rails and gates, which served as the lounging spaces, docks, and security perimeters, these rickety homesteads could be taken for stationary houseboats. On the gatepost of one, the sign: “Leave a Wake, You Won’t Wake.” And the skull and bones.
4. The Sunken Quarter
The paved road I discerned wasn’t a road at all, or a proper bank. It was the wide top of a huge, encircling barrier. We had pulled up to the top of an amphitheater, a bowl, the irregular perimeter that held back the Old River…
What I saw first were bronze roofs with steep dormers. Next, the crowns of palms, which I’d never seen from above before—lush, green blooms. Underneath, buildings with bright shutters. The old cathedral, an ancient edifice, in the middle. Its spire pierced the horizon, the one structure taller than the level of the Quay. It alone caught natural light. Everything below in that valley set into the water had already descended into an almost garish, electrified night. All of it gleamed, for it was coated in glazes. The city itself seemed to be made of porcelain, like something kept in a cabinet for a giant’s delight.
5. Re-New Orleans
We went on a narrow cable strung along the hook of the shore of the shining Sea of Pontchartrain, which in those days was a fast slide, of two hours. When I arrived at the station on the U.A. side, I took the elevator down several stories. Through the glass I got a wide view of Re-New Orleans. It was crisp and pastel and full of turrets and verandas and pergolas—exquisite, clean, shining, and fashionable. Houses were close together and you could see the little patches of walled gardens behind them.
6. Sea of Pontchartrain
I imagined the thin film, the mirror surface of the Sea of Pontchartrain I had noticed on the ride over on the Sky Rail. I knew there were lost towns underneath the sea that had lined the Northern shore and the Eastern edge of the old lakes—the Pontchartrain and the Maurepas—before they spread into a single sea, after the lands were lost and the Mississippi changed course. On cloudy days, I’d seen floating lamp posts under the surface, wrecked ancient cars, broken streets, the ridge pieces of old roofs. When the sun shone this morning as I was coming over, though, all I could take in was the shining surface.
A set of three passed by in blue gowns, all exceptionally tall, with snouts like borzoi dogs. A group of four in yellow short pants, with dragonfly style double wings on their backs. Following behind them, a mascot on a leash perhaps two feet tall, a folded face like a bulldog, a gargoyle. I had never heard of an Altered that owned an Altered, but that seemed to be the case.
8. Crawley’s Crobster House
The broken shells and little puddles and discarded feelers were there to give the illusion of a dirty floor. That made the most sense because, otherwise, how could it exist at all? Since it had such a fascinating pattern. Like so many other things in the Sunken Quarter, designed, for the highest effect. Like the Altereds, like this Imposse, like the shining picturesque coated buildings, the gleaming stadium style stairs that rimmed this place, kept out the Old River. I touched the table under the mat the waitress put down. On the face of it, it was carved with initials by old lovers, but it was obvious this was a replica of a rotten old table, rendered by an artist.
9. Bullet Trains
But mostly I travelled in the bullets and saw nothing of these depressing scenes. Instead, gorgeous rolling hills, populated by galloping herds of fanciful creatures—lavender elephants, lions that shone like silver jewels—which did not seem to be holos at all, but real landscapes of amazing depth. They were projected onto the walls of the tunnels. On some lines, they continued right up until the moment the bullets pulled into the huge terminals, inside the domed cities, none of the offense of the raw land.
10. Lydia Greenmore’s Estate — The “Wood Palace”
Soon we were going along the middle of an isthmus, fortified on each side with piles of limestone rocks, in the midst of low reeds dotted here and there with standing pools, and then the land widened once again, and there were neat patches of green on either side. Crops I didn’t recognize. Then, rather suddenly, a white house rose up out of the marsh. Handsome and wide shouldered with white columns, a copy of the ancient French Colonial style, square, on stilts, and one story….The plank road became a bridge, the house’s only tether to land.