Friday, November 1, 2013

Deck Of Fridays 2: Well-Read

Welcome back to DECK OF FRIDAYS here at FATE SF, our new weekly feature in which we make a draw from the Deck of Fate, our deck of  RPG Inspiration Cards, or another Aspect-generative randomizer - and then do something interesting with it - using the Aspect as inspiration for a campaign or scenario seed, a situation, scene, location, NPC, thingie, etc.

This week's draw from the Deck of Fate was pulled on Thursday morning, for Bujilli, the weekly experimental literary and gaming serial over at Hereticwerks.

I liked the card so much, I am also using it as the subject of this week's DOF post.

So here we go, with a scene Aspect!


A robot (or alien, or replicant/fabricant) sits far underground reading. It's surrounded by stacks of books. Piles of them, arranged haphazardly, great Jenga towers of made of words.

That's right, books.

Not the CodeXs stored on data crystals overlaid with the psychic imprint of their authors: crystals strung onto necklaces and rosaries, worn by those who wished to create an impression of intelligence and sagacity, and of the devotion of the well-read.

These books are the real thing. Books made of paper, ink, glue and cloth. A few with leather and fur. Others with feather and bone. They come in all shapes and sizes, all colors and smells. More than a few are first editions with signatures. Many have color plates and blossoming monochromatic stains and molds.

Adjacent to this room there are dozens of others, each filled floor-to-ceiling with more books.

It's gotten waylaid, this robot.  It was built for Pest Control far below the city. After all, it had been programmed as an entomologist before it was repurposed (as the barbarians are wont to say these days) for its current assignment.

(In fact, the robot is quite conversant in both the glyphic and song-forms of Glissendo, the insectile conlang cobbled together millions of years ago by numerous arthopod species living around the Core. It relishes the opportunity to read the numerous glyphic Bug Texts squirrelled away in the stacks. Books you can read, taste, smell.)

The robot retains a bug hunter's fascination with structure, complexity, and variation. It finds the books interesting, especially with all their varied languages, fonts, and material forms. The robot's masters have forgotten all about the robot. No one is tracking its current progress against a production schedule.  (Or , more accurately, against a timetable for the books' destruction.)

This old rubbish was supposed to have been gotten rid of hundreds of years ago. The incinerator is still there, glowing in anticipation. But the robot can't quite force itself to feed the furnace yet.

It is committing each book to memory first.

Book-by-book, day-by-day, the robot sits and reads. Being well-read is its own reward the robot tells itself. Who knows: maybe one of these days, one of the so-called "delvers" who walk past the robot will want a few of these books.

There are many kinds of treasure.

This vignette is inspired by four sentences in Cordwainer Smith's novel Norstrillia. And Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, of course.


  1. I really, really like this. What a great vignette. Love to learn more about Bug Texts...

    1. Thanks so much, Jim! I had fun wring it, and good flow. More on the Bug Texts will emerge with time.