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Apr 06 2013

Saturday Storytime: Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain

It’s only been a couple of months since Cat Rambo appeared in this feature, but she has a short story nominated for a Nebula that you probably ought to see.

Places to take tourists on Planet Porcelain:

  1. A birthing factory, where the citizenry are mass produced. The list is short; tourists are only taken to the upper class factories, where citizens are made of the highest quality porcelain, rather than one of the more sordid working class manufactories.
  2. The bridges of Etekeli, which run from building to building in a city more vertical than horizontal. There is a daring glee to the citizenry here; the ground is littered with the remains of those who came to this place, which has a suicide rate twenty times that of elsewhere on the planet.
  3. The Dedicatorium.

The first sight of the Dedicatorium awed him. She understood how it must look: from afar a wall of thorny white. Then as one approached, it resolved itself into a pattern made of feet and hands, arms and legs.

“People leave these here?” he half-whispered, his voice roughened by the silence.

“They do it for several reasons,” she told him. “Some in gratitude for some answered prayer. Others to leave a piece of themselves behind.”

As they watched, a woman approached. She carried a bundle in her only hand. When she got close to the wall, she fumbled away the coverings to reveal the other hand. She searched along the wall until she found a place to fold it into a niche. It curled there, its fingers clustered as though to form a hollow where a secret might be whispered.

His face was flushed, but she could not read the emotion. “Your people can detach their own limbs?”

“It is easier to get someone else to do it,” she said. “It is not without pain. The joints must be detached, and it usually breaks them to do so.”

“I have seen no amputees on your streets,” he said. His eyes searched the wall, taking in the delicate point of a toe, the rugged line of a calf’s stilled muscles.

“It is an injury that often leads to cracking,” she said. “Few survive unless they take great care of the point where the limb was severed.”

“It’s barbaric,” he said, but she heard only love and appreciation in his voice.

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