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By Bruce Sterling

Bruce Sterling brings us a story of espionage, cyber-threats, exchange realities and intrigue in “Black Swan”, a depressing and cyberpunk novelette.

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She also enjoyed her own meal. Sears seldom ate sweets but she ate a crème brûlée while she told him what she pleased about herself. She was divorced from a successful dentist named Arthur and had two children. Her son, who was eighteen, was absorbed in Eastern religions, but from what she said Sears wasn’t sure whether or not he was in Tibet. Her daughter was in a ballet school in Des Moines, where Arthur lived. She said without sarcasm or laughter that she was at a turning point in her affairs.

Anselm’s was Presbyterian and he wondered what she could be doing there on a weekday night. This was in Lent and the only church observations would be mournful. He didn’t know but he thought the Presbyterians had a less exacting calendar than his own Episcopal Church, and he guessed that Thursday was not a church holiday and that she had not gone to church to pray. None of his wives or lovers had been enthusiastic church members and this might be the first time in his life that he had gone to church to meet a woman.

The elevator man asked. “No,” said Sears. He could barely speak. ” “I am her uncle,” said Sears. “Then you must have known her when she was a little girl,” said the elevator man. “She must have been terribly pretty. ” It was a blow to Sears, a stunning blow, although he should have been able to anticipate this in the way she wagged her ass around. Just following her to a table in a restaurant inaugurated an erotic competition that would leave the waiters, and any other players, obliged to dismiss Sears as an old man who, with his clothes off, would present nothing interesting but a costly wristwatch.

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